Supreme Court suspends 2 attorneys following convictions

Two Hoosier lawyers have been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana following criminal convictions in 2021.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday imposed a 180-day sentence with automatic reinstatement on Christopher D. Stidham of Portage. Also on Thursday, Timmy J. Brown, of Indianapolis, was suspended for 180 days, with 60 days served and the remainder stayed subject to two years of monitoring under the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

Stidham, the former Portage clerk-treasurer, had been under an interim suspension since Aug. 10, 2021, following his plea of guilty to Level 6 felony conflict of interest. 

According to the Order Approving Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement of Discipline,  Stidham began serving as clerk-treasurer in 2012 and applied for admission to the Indiana bar in 2016. But at the time of his application, Stidham “was engaged in an illegal scheme involving payments to three companies controlled by his then-girlfriend.”

The contracts, worth more than $250, were for bank reconcilement, migration of data and digitizing of certain records maintained by the clerk-treasurer’s office, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. Stidham did not make written disclosures of the contracts as required by statute.

The parties agreed that Stidham violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.1(b) “by failing to disclose on his bar application his payments as Clerk-Treasurer to the entities controlled by his then-girlfriend.” His 180-day suspension is backdated to Aug. 10, 2021.

Stidham will be automatically reinstated at the conclusion of the 180-day period, provided no other suspensions are in effect. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him, including $250 payable to the clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court.

The case is In the Matter of: Christopher D. Stidham, 21S-DI-466.

As for Brown, his suspension was effective Thursday.

Brown was convicted in May 2021 of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior conviction, a Level 6 felony entered as a Class A misdemeanor. He was previously charged with public intoxication in 2012, although that charge was dismissed following his completion of a pretrial diversion program.

Brown was placed under an interim suspension on Oct. 22, 2021. In the Thursday order, the parties agreed that he violated Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on his trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.

Following his active 60-day suspension, Brown must comply with certain conditions during his two years of JLAP monitoring, including:

  • Refraining from alcohol and all mind-altering substances except as prescribed.
  • Not violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • Promptly reporting in writing any violation of his probation or JLAP monitoring agreement to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, including the results of drug or alcohol tests as relevant.

If Brown violates any of those terms, the stay of his suspension will be vacated and the balance will be actively served without automatic reinstatement. Otherwise, his probation will remain in effect until it is terminated pursuant to a petition filed under Admission and Discipline Rule 23(16).

The costs of the proceeding are assessed against Brown in In the Matter of: Timmy J. Brown, 21S-DI-414.

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