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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Attorney suspended from practice for 3 years, without automatic reinstatement

In In the Matter of Kjell P. Engebretsen, a 3-page, 3-1 opinion issued Oct. 29th, the Court writes:

Facts: On November 2, 2011, the Commission filed a 106-paragraph complaint consists of six counts alleging misconduct occurring from 2006 through 2011. The Commission charged Respondent with neglecting clients' cases, failing to do the work for which he was hired, failing to communicate with clients, failing to inform clients that medical problems would severely limit his ability to represent them, failing to inform clients of court orders and hearings, failing to appear at hearings and a pretrial conference, unilaterally terminating his representation of clients without protecting the clients' interests, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to cooperate with the Commission. Respondent was served with the complaint and did not respond. Accordingly, the hearing officer took the facts alleged in the complaint as true. * * *

Discipline: Respondent's serial misconduct injured his clients and tarnished the reputation of the legal profession. Respondent is already under two suspension orders and failed to appear or in any way respond to the current charges against him. Although Respondent's medical problems may have contributed to his misconduct, such problems do not excuse misconduct, see Matter of Thomsen, 911 N.E.2d 575 (Ind. 2009), and Respondent presented no evidence on the issue. Under these circumstances, to protect the public and the integrity of the legal profession, the Court concludes that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law for not less than three years. See Matter of Eckert, 867 N.E.2d 141 (Ind. 2007).

For Respondent's professional misconduct, the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than three years, without automatic reinstatement, effective immediately. * * *

All Justices concur, except David, J., who dissents regarding the discipline, believing it to be insufficient, and would disbar Respondent.

The Roll of Attorneys lists Engebretsen's address as Lebanon.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 31, 2012 03:33 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions