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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Suspended attorney fined for practicing law

In an order dated May 27, 2011, in In the Matter of Richard M. Bash, the Court writes:

The Court suspended Respondent from the practice of law for no less than 180 days without automatic reinstatement beginning March 21, 2008. Respondent filed a petition for reinstatement on December 23, 2008, which is pending before a hearing officer. The Commission filed a "Verified Petition for Rule to Show Cause" on February 3, 2011, asserting Respondent practiced law in this state by representing clients while suspended from the practice of law. The Court issued an order to show cause on March 4, 2011, and Respondent filed a response on April 4, 2011.

The Commission alleges that in May 2009, after two youths broke a window at the home of a friend of Respondent's, Respondent went to the home of one of the youths and gave the mother an "invoice" for $917.72 for the resulting damages, including round trip air fare to Indiana from Arkansas, where Respondent was then living. He gave the mother a business card reading: "Law Office of Richard Bash." Later, Respondent and his friend filed suit as co-plaintiffs against the parents of the youths. The complaints were signed by only Respondent and sought damages of $1,370.32, plus attorney fees. The suits were consolidated, and Respondent and his friend were eventually awarded judgment for $645.00, with each set of parents responsible for half. * * *

This Court has inherent and statutory authority to punish contempt of court by fine and imprisonment. See Matter of Mittower, 693 N.E.2d 555, 559 (Ind. 1998). In determining an appropriate punishment, the Court considers, among other factors, any continuing risk to the public or profession. See id. Respondent's violations of the suspension order do not appear to be ongoing misconduct. Under the circumstances, the Court concludes that a fine of $500.00 is sufficient discipline for Respondent's contempt of court by practicing law while suspended. The Court will, however, take this incident into consideration if Respondent pursues his petition to be reinstated to the practice of law.

The Court therefore ORDERS that Respondent be fined the sum of $500.00.

ILB: Here, thanks to Google Scholar, is a copy of the April 9, 1998 Supreme Court ruling in Matter of Mittower.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 2, 2011 09:07 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions