Friday, October 16, 2015

Good Intentions Lead To Private Reprimand

A private reprimand was imposed by the Indiana Supreme Court for an attorney's ex parte communication with a judge.

Respondent was hired by the maternal grandparents of a young child who were concerned about the child’s welfare. At the time, the child was living with the grandparents in White County, the putative father’s paternity had not yet been established, and the child’s mother allegedly was an unemployed drug addict who was unable to properly care for the child but nevertheless was threatening to remove the child from the grandparents’ home.

On June 11, 2014, Respondent prepared an “Emergency Petition” seeking to have the grandparents appointed as the child’s temporary guardians. Respondent dispatched an associate attorney in her office to the White County Courthouse with instructions to present the Emergency Petition for judicial consideration. The associate attorney presented the Emergency Petition to the judge, who reviewed the Emergency Petition and signed the proposed order appointing the grandparents as temporary co-guardians of the child. The order was directed to be served on the child’s mother and putative father.

Respondent did not provide advance notice to the mother or the putative father before causing the Emergency Petition to be presented to the judge. 1 Respondent also did not comply with Trial Rule 65(B), which required Respondent to certify to the court the efforts (if any) made to give notice to adverse parties and the reasons supporting a claim that notice should not be required.

The court

while Respondent’s intentions regarding the welfare of her clients’ grandchild may have been good, they did not justify dispensing with the mandatory procedures designed to protect the rights of other parties with legal interests at stake in the proceeding. See Anonymous, 729 N.E.2d at 569. For Respondent’s misconduct in this case, we agree with the parties that a private reprimand is warranted.

This matter was resolved by agreement of the parties. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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