Monday, August 6, 2012
An attorney was retained to represent the father in a divorce and custody matter. The attorney learned from her client that that in an earlier CHINS (child in need of supervision) matter his wife's boyfriend had allegedly inappropriately touched his daughter. She concluded that the client's son and daughter "were in grave danger" and decided to interview them.
The attorney picked up the children at school, claiming that she had a right to do so. The school secretary "refused at first but felt intimidated and eventually relented."
The secretary called the cops, who called the mother. The mother "was terrified and became more upset as the evening wore on."
The attorney refused to disclose the location of the children to the children's sitter. The attorney, the father and the children had dinner.
Respondent then drove with the children through the back roads around Martinsville, looking for a birthday party [the daughter] had been invited to attend, relying on the children for directions. Respondent's cell phone had died and she was low on gas. Respondent stopped at several houses looking for the party, without success. Respondent eventually took the children to Mother's house at 8:45 p.m. - nearly six hours after Respondent took them from school.
The Indiana Supreme Court found a number of ethical violations in this scenerio and imposed a suspension of not less than six months without automatic reinstatement.
The court found that the conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice and "had no substantial purpose other than to burden the school secretary and Mother in violation of Rule 4.4(a)."
The court noted convincing evidence that "the incident was not an isolated lapse" and that the attorney "lacks any insight into why her conduct was wrong..." (MIke Frisch)