Muncie attorney gets 180-day suspension

A Muncie attorney previously convicted of drunken driving charges has been suspended from the practice of law for 180 days without automatic reinstatement for his professional misconduct, including his failure to reimburse lienholders, obtain consent from clients with conflicts of interest and give notice of his criminal conviction.

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Michael P. Quirk without automatic reinstatement in a Thursday order in In the Matter of: Michael P. Quirk, 19S-DI-56. Justices accepted the Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline agreed upon by Quirk and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

The order says Quirk committed professional misconduct in five counts, beginning with his failure in 2015 to reimburse a third party who had paid for Client 1’s medical expenses and who had a lien on any recovery. Quirk “never reimbursed the lienholder despite multiple inquiries from the lienholder’s counsel, nor did Quirk provide the lienholder’s counsel with an accounting of the settlement payments,” the order states. Quirk claimed to have no knowledge of the lienholder’s counsel.

In Count 2, which dates to a 2012 settlement, Quirk again failed to reimburse a third party who had paid for Client 2’s medical expenses and had a lien on any recovery. Quirk never reimbursed the lienholder, nor did he provide the lienholder with an accounting of the settlement payments.

When he agreed to represent two criminal co-defendants, Count 3 says, Quirk “never obtained written informed consent from either client regarding an actual or potential conflict of interest.”

Quirk eventually withdrew from Client 3A’s representation due to nonpayment of attorney fees, and a public defender appeared for Client 3A. But when Client 3A later approached Quirk at his law office seeking to exculpate Client 3B, the attorney had an assistant type out Client 3A’s handwritten confession and had Client 3A sign the typed statement. He did this “despite knowing Client 3A was represented by a public defender,” the order states.

Client 3A was then arrested on a new charge and Quirk, then representing the client in both the original and new matter, “met ex parte with the trial judge to inquire whether Client 3A’s bond money could be released for an attorney fee … . At a subsequent hearing, the trial court disqualified Respondent as counsel for Clients 3A and 3B due to the conflict of interest,” according to the order.

In Count 4, Quirk ran into further conflict-of-interest issues when he represented Client 4 in a criminal matter stemming from the ownership and possession of dogs that eventually were confiscated by police and the city’s animal shelter. During that time, the order states, Quirk’s law firm represented the city as corporation counsel and Quirk’s law partner was counsel for the animal shelter.

According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, Quirk is a partner at Quick and Hunter, P.C. in Muncie.

Quirk “never obtained written informed consent from the City or Client 4 about actual or potential conflicts of interest in the dual representation,” the order states. Then, when Client 4 was convicted, he unsuccessfully pursued post-conviction relief on grounds that included Quirk’s conflict of interest.

Quirk “did not timely respond to the Commission’s demand for information regarding this matter, leading to the initiation of a show cause proceeding that was dismissed when Respondent belatedly complied,” the order says.

Finally, in Count 5, Quirk was convicted and sentenced in early 2012 for Class A misdemeanor criminal recklessness and operating a vehicle while intoxicated with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.15 or more. He failed to report the convictions to the commission.

Quirk’s drunken driving convictions have also been at issue in civil litigation between him and Delaware County, for which he works as a public defender.

After the vehicle crash that led to Quirk’s Class A misdemeanor convictions, he submitted his medical bills to the county’s health insurance administrator. Quirk’s claims were denied under an “illegal acts exclusion,” and the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld that decision in early 2018, finding Quirk had not notified the county of an alleged mental illness that contributed to the accident.

As to the disciplinary complaint, the parties agreed Quirk violated eight Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct, including:

  • Rule 1.7: Representing a client when the representation is directly adverse to another client, without obtaining informed, written consent from the client;
  • Rule 1.9: Representing a person in a matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of a former client without the former client’s informed consent;
  • Rule 1.10(a): Knowingly representing a client when another lawyer associated in the respondent’s firm would be prohibited from doing so;
  • Rule 1.15(d): Failing to deliver promptly funds owed to a third person and to provide an accounting;
  • Rule 3.5(b): Engaging in an improper ex parte communication with a judge;
  • Rule 4.2: Improperly communicating with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter;
  • Rule 8.1(a): Knowingly making a false statement of material fact to the disciplinary commission in connection with a disciplinary matter, and;
  • Rule 8.1(b): Failing to respond in a timely manner to the commission’s demands for information.

The parties also agreed Quirk violated Admission and Discipline Rule 23(11.1) by failing to notify the commission of his drunken driving convictions.

Quirk’s 180-day suspension will begin Oct. 3. He can petition for reinstatement at the conclusion of the 180-day period, but he must show that he has paid the costs of the proceeding, which are assessed against him, and that he “satisfies the requirements for reinstatement of Admission and Discipline Rule 23(18).” He must also demonstrate his remorse, rehabilitation and fitness to practice law.

All justices concurred.

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