Justices suspend 2 lawyers for repeat OWI convictions

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An attorney from Carmel and one from Connersville have been suspended from the practice of law as a result of convictions for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The lawyers in both cases had prior convictions.

In separate orders Thursday, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an immediate interim suspension for Carmel attorney Gene A. Wheeler and ordered a 30-day active suspension for Anne E. Sanders of the Connersville firm Baker Bodwell Judd.

Wheeler, the justices wrote, “has been found guilty of the following offenses … Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (‘OWI’) With a Prior Conviction, OWI With an Alcohol Concentration Equivalent of .15 or More With a Prior Conviction, and OWI With Endangerment and a Prior Conviction, all level 6 felonies.”

Online court records show Wheeler was charged in December, pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to 730 days in Hamilton County Community Corrections. He was given 76 days’ credit for 43 days served in the Hamilton County Jail and was accepted into the county’s drug court program. His driver’s license also was suspended for one year.

Wheeler’s interim suspension from the practice of law, the justices wrote, “shall continue until further order of this Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect.”

In Sanders’ case, justices approved a statement of circumstances and conditional agreement for discipline she reached with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission after she pleaded guilty in July 2020 to misdemeanor OWI. Sanders, the justices wrote, “has a prior misdemeanor conviction for OWI(,) … has no prior discipline, was cooperative with law enforcement officials and the disciplinary process, and has sought assistance with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP).”

According to online court records, Sanders was charged in August 2019 with two OWI counts as felonies due to a prior conviction. She also was charged with a misdemeanor count of OWI with an alcohol concentration of .15 or more. Court records show she was sentenced to probation in July 2020 after she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count and the state dismissed the two felony charges.

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Sanders from the practice of law for 60 days, with 30 days actively served, beginning April 29. Her suspension is subject to completion of at least two years of monitoring through the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Violation of the terms of her probation or any further OWI arrests will result in the balance of her stayed suspension becoming actively served without automatic reinstatement.

Sanders also was ordered to pay a total of $284.31 in court costs and disciplinary commission investigation reimbursement.

The cases are In the Matter of: Gene A. Wheeler, 21S-DI-81, and In the Matter of Anne E. Sanders, 21S-DI-21.

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