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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Another fee-related disciplinary opinion from the Supreme Court

In the Matter of Everett E. Powell, II is an 8-page per curiam opinion in a disciplinary action. The respondent is pro se. The facts are difficult to summarize, so I wont' try. From the opinion:

We find that Respondent, Everett E. Powell, II, engaged in attorney misconduct by collecting a clearly unreasonable and exploitive fee from a vulnerable client in violation of Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a). For this misconduct, we find that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for at least 120 days without automatic reinstatement.

This matter is before the Court on the report of the hearing officer appointed by this Court to hear evidence on the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's "Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action," and on the post-hearing briefing by the parties. Respondent's 2004 admission to this state's bar subjects him to this Court's disciplinary jurisdiction. See IND. CONST. art. 7, ยง 4. * * *

Collection of an unreasonable fee. The Commission charged Respondent with violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a), which prohibits making an agreement for, charging, or collecting an unreasonable fee.

Even if a fee agreement is reasonable under the circumstances at the time entered into, subsequent developments may render collection of the fee unreasonable. * * *

In light of Respondent's collection of an unreasonable fee from a vulnerable client, his lack of insight into his misconduct, and the other aggravating circumstances described above, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for 120 days without automatic reinstatement.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 29, 2011 10:58 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions