Thursday, February 7, 2008
An attorney who engaged in ethical misconduct in two matters was suspended for at least 180 days without automatic reinstatement by order of the Indiana Supreme Court. One matter was somewhat unusual in that the court found that the lawyer violated Rule 1.1 (competence) by filing and litigating a post-conviction claim for relief. The lack of competence was based on the poor quality of the legal services. Many jurisdictions might not find the violation because the lawyer did something, however inartfully.
The second charge involved the lawyer's rebuffed attempts to kiss a prospective client who had come in to discuss a possible divorce. The lawyer filed the divorce action and thereafter tried to persuade the client to pursue the divorce when the client had advised that she did not wish to proceed. He also "sent several unsolicited sexually explicit emails" to the client. The attorney denied the attempted kisses, admitted sending the emails and "stated he did this only after she implored him to do so because she was lonely and it would make her feel like a woman."
When the bar filed an emergency petition for interim suspension, the lawyer filed a response that "contain[ed] dubious and unnecessarily explicit details of the client's personal life" and "demonstrated a willingness to lie under oath about his misconduct and to compound the distress he caused his client by attempting to shift the blame to her." Reinstatement will not be ordered until the lawyer shows "genuine remorse" and a "proper understanding of and attitude towards" the ethical standards of the profession. (Mike Frisch)