Thursday, November 3, 2022

No Automatic Reinstatement

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended an attorney without automatic reinstatement

We find that Respondent, Ralph W. Staples, engaged in attorney misconduct by dividing attorney fees without his client’s permission, disobeying court orders, making false statements to the Disciplinary Commission, and failing to timely respond to the Commission’s demands for information. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for not less than one year, without automatic reinstatement.

The attorney had agreed to represent the client in several matters with the $11,500 fee (never reduced to writing) to be paid by the client's mother.

Respondent paid an attorney who he shared office space with to appear for the client and withdrew shortly thereafter

By the time Respondent withdrew, Client’s mother had paid him $4,300, $1,148 of which Respondent had paid to [attorney] Draving without consent from Client or his mother. Client’s mother requested a full refund from Respondent but never received one. So, Client’s mother sued Respondent in case number 49D11-1911-CC-46864 (“Refund Case”).

Respondent defaulted in that case and failed to cooperate with the bar investigation

In this case, Respondent made no meaningful effort to represent Client. Not only did he foist representation of Client on an unaffiliated attorney without Client’s knowledge or assent, but for three years he has refused to refund Client the fees he collected but did not earn—even after judgment was entered against him in a separate lawsuit. Respondent’s obstinance and dishonesty continued during these disciplinary proceedings, during which he made a false statement to the Commission, missed a hearing, disregarded orders from the hearing officer, and generally continued his pattern of noncooperation.

He must pay the judgment as a condition of reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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