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Friday, August 06, 2010

Ind. Decisions - More on: Supreme Court posts a number of disciplinary rulings today

Updating this ILB entry from August 4, 2010, two of the disciplinary actions I featured are the subject of a story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reported by Rebecca S. Green and headed "Two local lawyers handed suspensions for misdeeds." The lawyers desciplined are Ernest M. Beal Jr. and Samuel L. Bolinger. Some quotes:

Beal, an attorney and licensed minister, was chief operating officer of Your Friends and Neighbors, a company that ran group homes in Indiana and Georgia for the developmentally impaired.

Beal raided the residents’ trust fund, which holds money from the clients’ Social Security checks, paychecks and other income and is meant to pay for expenses and care of the residents. He argued he needed the money to make payroll, but that payroll included salaries of $300,000 each for him and his ex-wife, the company’s chief executive officer.

He said he planned to pay the money back with interest. But the jury disagreed, finding him guilty. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull sentenced Beal to two years in prison.

In Bolinger’s case, he and the disciplinary commission agreed that he asked his secretary to prepare a series of back-dated letters to reflect advice he gave to his client concerning discovery in a civil case.

The court entered a judgment in favor of the other party in the case, because Bolinger’s client hadn’t complied with a request to turn over information.

The client accused Bolinger of failing to respond to the requests for information, and Bolinger ordered the back-dated letters to make it seem as if he had responded to the requests, according to court documents.

Bolinger admitted as part of the discipline proceedings that he violated the code of professional conduct for lawyers by engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, according to court documents.

The court ordered Bolinger be suspended from the practice of law for 30 days, beginning Sept. 10.

ILB: As reported in the earlier ILB entry, the vote for the 30-day penalty was 3-2, with CJ Shepard and J Boehm dissenting, "believing the discipline to be inadequate." Thirty days with automatic reinstatement for back-dating documents "to make it seem as though he had [timely] responded to the requests, and admittedly "engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" seems a very lenient result.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 6, 2010 09:35 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions