Tuesday, June 15, 2021
The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended an attorney
We find that Respondent, Robert Cheesebourough, committed attorney misconduct by neglecting one client’s case, making improper threats in another case, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary process. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for at least one year without automatic reinstatement.
Respondent represented members of a church’s board of directors in an action in Madison Superior Court brought by other members of the church, who were represented by “Opposing Counsel.” Respondent and his clients believed the opposing parties had improperly used church funds to pay Opposing Counsel. Respondent sent a cease-and-desist letter to Opposing Counsel demanding, among other things, that the suit be dropped and that the funds used to pay Opposing Counsel be returned to the church. In that letter, Respondent threatened to file a disciplinary grievance against Opposing Counsel and the judge, and a criminal complaint against Opposing Counsel, unless Opposing Counsel and the opposing parties complied with Respondent’s demands.
Respondent has prior discipline for similar misconduct and an extensive history of noncooperation with disciplinary investigations. Respondent also has been administratively suspended seven times for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements and nonpayment of dues and disciplinary costs. All of this, save for one administrative suspension, has transpired within the last few years. Respondent also engaged in a pattern of dishonesty toward the hearing officer during these proceedings, and his testimony during the final hearing – including his assertions he was unable to stay awake long enough to claim certified mailings of the disciplinary grievances filed against him – demonstrates an indifference to fulfilling even the most basic responsibilities of an attorney. We find ample support for the hearing officer’s recommendation that Respondent be suspended for at least one year and thereafter remain suspended until he can prove clearly and convincingly that he is fit to resume practice, and neither party has filed a brief urging a different sanction be imposed.