Monday, July 27, 2020

Removal Services

The Indiana Supreme Court has imposed a 90-day suspension jointly proposed by the Disciplinary Commission and the respondent 

Respondent was arrested for, and later pled guilty to, OWI. As a result of his refusal to comply with Indiana’s implied consent law at the time of his arrest, and later as a result of his conviction, Respondent’s license was suspended from May 2017 until July 2018. Respondent twice drove while his license was suspended. In addition, Respondent’s criminal probation was revoked after he was found in violation for consuming alcohol.

Separately, in December 2016 Respondent entered into an “of counsel” relationship with a Texas law firm, Eastman Meyler d/b/a WipeRecord, which marketed various “criminal record removal services” and similar services. Under this contractual relationship, Eastman Meyler would generate customer leads, enter into representation agreements, and provide all document preparation and processing, customer service, billing, and client management. Respondent was forbidden from negotiating representation agreements with clients and, in most instances, from communicating with clients at all. Further, Respondent was not expected to attend court hearings and had no control over whether or when a pleading was filed. Respondent’s contracted role was limited to reviewing and signing the documents drafted by Eastman Meyler.

Respondent accepted at least 251 cases from Eastman Meyler between December 2016 and June 2018. One of those involved two particular married “Clients” of Eastman Meyler  nominally represented by Respondent. Clients sought an expungement of two criminal matters in Indiana and indicated their request for relief was time-sensitive due to an immigration matter. Clients paid the full contract price to Eastman Meyler. For the next year, Eastman Meyler personnel inadequately communicated with Clients and dragged their feet on performing the contracted-for work. One year after retaining Eastman Meyler, Clients still had not received resolution to their matters. Respondent never communicated with Clients despite the fact he was their attorney of record.

The stipulated violations in addition to lack of diligence and failure to communicate

5.3(c): Ordering or ratifying the misconduct of nonlawyer assistants, or failing to take reasonable remedial action with respect to the misconduct of nonlawyer assistants under the lawyer’s supervision.
5.4(c): Permitting a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.
5.5(a): Assisting in the unauthorized practice of law.
8.4(b): Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

(Mike Frisch)

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