Justices accept resignation of suspended Decatur lawyer

A northern Indiana lawyer who two years ago was suspended and jailed for forging a judge’s signature on a phony divorce order and attempting to coopt a deputy prosecutor’s identity has resigned from the practice of law rather than face a subsequent attorney discipline complaint.

Jill N. Holtzclaw’s resignation was accepted by the Indiana Supreme Court in a Monday order. As required by Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(17), Holtzclaw acknowledged “that there is presently pending an investigation into or a proceeding involving allegations of misconduct and that Respondent could not successfully defend herself if prosecuted.”

A copy of the disciplinary complaint filed in November was not immediately available. Monday’s order did not disclose the alleged misconduct, but Holtzclaw has been suspended from the practice of law since June 2018, when she was criminally charged. Adams County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Gary Burkhart wrote in an affidavit of probable cause the prior November that he had been asked to look into a suspicious divorce decree and final order that appeared to bear the signature of Adams Circuit Judge Chad Kukelhan.

But Kukelhan did not sign the purported order that Holtzclaw had provided to a client. Nor did Huntington County deputy prosecutor Jennifer Pyclik send a bogus email to the widow of one of Holtzclaw’s expungement clients that falsely asserted in Pyclik’s name that the client’s criminal record had been cleared. Subsequent investigation led to charges against Holtzclaw in both cases.

Holtzclaw was sentenced in January 2019 to 270 days behind bars followed by a year of probation for her convictions of Level 6 felony counts of forgery and counterfeiting after she pleaded guilty a month earlier.

Admitted to the bar in 2012, Holtzclaw had six prior concluded attorney discipline cases in addition to this case, In the Matter of: Jill N. Holtzclaw, 20S-DI-643.

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