Friday, February 15, 2019
The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded an attorney
JB and KW committed various crimes, including burglary of a home. JB was arrested first and told police of KW’s involvement. Respondent was appointed as JB’s public defender. JB told Respondent a co-defendant was involved and that JB wanted to serve as a witness for the prosecution. Respondent did not read the probable cause affidavit in JB’s case (which identified JB and KW as co-defendants) or otherwise seek to identify JB’s codefendant.
KW was arrested about two months later and was appointed a public defender. However, Respondent agreed to privately represent KW and accepted $1,450 as a partial retainer. Respondent instructed his paralegal to file an appearance and other documents on KW’s behalf, but the paralegal did not do so and Respondent failed to supervise his paralegal to ensure the various documents were filed. KW did not mention a co-defendant during his initial meeting with Respondent, and the probable cause affidavit in KW’s case identified JB only by a nickname.
Following a pretrial conference in KW’s case, Respondent was confronted with the fact he was representing both JB and KW as co-defendants. Upon learning this, Respondent immediately sought to withdraw his representation of both JB and KW, refunded the partial retainer that had been paid on KW’s behalf, and apologized for the confusion.
JB, represented by new counsel, and KW, represented by his public defender, both eventually pled guilty.