Lawyer who sexted client draws 30-day suspension

An Indianapolis attorney will serve a 30-day suspension for sending sexually explicit text messages to a client, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered.

In an order issued Thursday, justices approved Joseph F. Thoms’ conditional agreement reached with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission to settle a formal complaint against him.

The agreement stipulates that while representing a client in a civil matter, Thoms “sent Client a series of sexually explicit text messages evincing Respondent’s desire to engage in sexual acts with Client. Respondent and Client were not involved in a personal relationship prior to the representation.”

The court issued a 30-day suspension with automatic reinstatement effective June 1, noting Thoms’ lack of prior discipline, his cooperation with the disciplinary proceedings, and the fact that he “has engaged with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) to address factors contributing to his misconduct.”

Thoms and the commission agreed he violated these Indiana Professional Conduct Rules:

  • 1.7(a)(2): Representing a client when the representation may be materially limited by the attorney’s own self-interest.
  • 1.16(a)(1): Failure to withdraw from representation when the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
  • 8.4(a): Attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct; specifically, by attempting to engage in an improper sexual relationship with a client

Thoms will continue ongoing JLAP treatment for one year after completion of his suspension, the order said, and pay costs totaling $264.55. The case is In the Matter of: Joseph F. Thoms, 20S-DI-21.

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