Monday, January 25, 2021

Ethics Charges Dismissed

The Indiana Supreme Court has entered judgment in favor of an attorney charged with ethics violations.

 The Court incorporates by reference the hearing officer’s findings of fact. The hearing officer concluded the Commission failed to meet its burden of proving that Respondent committed any professional misconduct. After reviewing the evidence and considering the parties’ arguments, the Court concludes that the hearing officer’s findings of fact are supported by the evidence, and based on those findings we likewise conclude that the Commission has failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence either of the two charged rule violations.

IndyStar reported on the allegations

An Indianapolis attorney and former federal prosecutor is the subject of an attorney discipline complaint alleging an improper romantic relationship with the wife of a man he once represented.

Larry Mackey, a veteran federal and state prosecutor and a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, is accused of conflict of interest and making a false statement to the commission regarding the beginnings of his relationship with the woman he would eventually marry.

Keenan Hauke, who was once a high-profile financial adviser, pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2011 after he was accused of stealing more than $7 million from investors and using their money to pay the mortgage on his home, a condo in Barbados and various business expenses. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to a complaint filed by the Indiana Supreme Court disciplinary commission in December, Mackey began representing Hauke in April 2011 and shortly thereafter began regularly interacting with Hauke's wife, Sarah, via email. Early that June, the complaint says, she was asking for legal advice regarding a divorce. She then filed for divorce on June 14, 2011.

In July 2011, Mackey bought gifts for her, including paying for a trip for her and her children to a resort in Michigan. She ended her email thanking him for the generosity with: "I love you!" Mackey said the same in his response to her.

In August 2011, Mackey arranged to take her on a trip to Siesta Key, Florida, according to the complaint, only days before he withdrew from representation of Hauke.

Mackey and Sarah became engaged in February 2012 and married that July.

In addition to alleging the relationship began while Mackey was representing Hauke, the complaint alleges that Mackey did not reveal the romantic nature of his relationship 

Hauke aired his grievances in a letter sent to the Indiana Supreme Court in May 2017, but G. Michael White, the executive director of the court's disciplinary commission, wrote him back, saying that while it was true that Mackey had married Hauke's ex-wife, he hadn't broken any rules. 

"That fact, in and of itself, is not a violation of any Rule of Professional Conduct," Witte wrote. "Our investigation shows that all other assertions you make about the marriage impacting your representation is unsubstantiated conjecture."

Hauke doubled down on the accusations in a civil lawsuit filed against Mackey in the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana in 2018 in which he sought more than $2 million in damages he said were caused in part by poor representation after Mackey recused himself. Judge William T. Lawrence ruled in Mackey's favor in September 2018.

It is unclear in court documents obtained by IndyStar what precipitated any renewed investigation and the current complain

In a response to the complaint filed this week on Mackey's behalf, he admits paying for the Michigan trip and exchanging emails that were personal in nature with Sarah, but denied spending time alone with Sarah before he left Hauke's case. 

Regarding the accusation that he didn't reveal the romantic nature of his relationship with Sarah to the disciplinary commission: "Mackey admits that he did not use the adjective “romantic” to describe his relationship with Sarah in the response."

A final hearing in the issue is scheduled for July 14.

Call IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at 317-444-6156. Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.

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