A self-described “eclectic” one-time state legislator from Muncie has resigned from the practice of law under pressure, ending a disciplinary case lodged against him that alleged he bungled an estate case, committed a “criminal act” and repeatedly dodged court hearings.
Bruce N. Munson, 68, a Republican member of the Indiana House from 1992-2002, resigned from the practice of law, according to an Indiana Supreme Court order issued Thursday. As is customary, Munson was required to acknowledge “that there is presently pending an investigation into or a proceeding involving allegations of misconduct” and that he “could not successfully defend himself if prosecuted,” the order says.
Munson is a solo attorney who says on his law firm website that he also has been a radio personality and cable television entrepreneur. His site says he “has a uniquely eclectic background that gives him a unique perspective on legal problems” and he can help with “legal needs including family law, DUIs, Suing the Bastards and Living Trusts.”
The discipline case against Munson alleges multiple instances in which he improperly administered an estate he opened in 2014. Among other things, he is alleged to have paid himself a fee before estate funds had been deposited, paid non-estate claims from the estate fund, and overpaid the personal representatives but failed to pay creditors or resolve issues with a car title.
“Despite having disbursed all estate funds by October 28, 2015, the estate … remains open to this day,” the complaint says.
As years passed, Munson failed to appear at multiple court hearings pertaining to the status of the estate, including one in 2018 in which the court ordered him to “show cause why he should not be sanctioned for failure to appear … and ordered the Sheriff of Delaware County to personally serve” Munson the order.
At a subsequent hearing, a co-personal representative of the estate objected to Munson’s proposed final accounting and closing statement, “stating that claims on the estate had not been paid” nor had a car title issue been resolved, according to the discipline complaint.
“By engaging in the criminal act of conversion, which reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty(,) trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer,” the disciplinary commission asserted, Munson violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b). Munson has not been criminally charged, according to online court records.
Munson’s attorney discipline complaint had also alleged these professional conduct rule violations:
- 1.3: failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
- 1.15(a): failing to safeguard estate property in his attorney trust account.
- 3.4(c): knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal.
Munson’s resignation bars him from petitioning for reinstatement for five years. Costs of the proceedings are assessed against him, according to the Supreme Court’s Thursday order.
“This matter predates the only completed disciplinary case in my history, and arises from the problem giving rise to that case: Sloppy trust account record keeping,” Munson said in an email.
“In the published case, a suspension was stayed subject to two years of CPA monitoring, which was successfully completed. I never got around to petitioning for an end to probation; whether that played a role in the recent matter, I don’t know. Notwithstanding that the problem at the root of the recent matter predated the successful CPA monitoring, the commission wanted a one year suspension, and in that territory there is no automatic reinstatement. Therefore, I concluded that 35 years in practice is plenty for me. I emphasize this: No client has lost money in connection with any of this.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comments from Bruce N. Munson.