Justices give Indianapolis lawyer probation for account mismanagement

An Indianapolis attorney and real estate broker whose overdrafts of his attorney trust accounts triggered a disciplinary commission investigation received a suspended suspension Thursday subject to at least one year of probation with accountant monitoring.

The Indiana Supreme Court placed Indianapolis attorney Merrill Moores on professional probation in a Thursday order approving a conditional agreement for discipline that Moores reached with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. The court noted an investigation after the overdrafts in 2019 “ultimately revealed trust account mismanagement and inadequate recordkeeping.”

Moores, the court wrote, “has taken several remedial steps, including retaining a certified public accountant to assist him with trust account management and establishing a second trust account to segregate funds belonging to his legal clients from funds belonging to his real estate clients.”

The court found Moores violated attorney ethics rules concerning commingling of client and attorney funds and failed to: keep adequate records of client trust account funds; keep an accurate and complete deposit and disbursement journal for his attorney trust account; keep sufficiently detailed client ledgers; keep an accurate ledger detailing the nominal amount of attorney funds held in a trust account; keep periodic reconciliation reports for a trust account; and reconcile internal trust account records with periodic bank account statements.

Under terms of his probation, Moores is required to pay for monitoring by a certified public accountant who will report quarterly to the commission. Violation of the terms of his agreement would subject Moores to actively serve his 30-day suspended suspension without automatic reinstatement.

The order in In the Matter of Merrill Moores, 20S-DI-584, was effective immediately, and Moores was ordered to pay disciplinary costs and fees totaling $622.50. According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, this is the fourth attorney discipline case for Moores, who was admitted to practice in 1989. All of those cases have now been concluded.

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