« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 4 NFP) | Main | Environment - "Bigger hog pens create challenges for farmers" »

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court fines attorney $300 for contempt, for practicing law while suspended

From In re Patricia S. Beecher, a 2-page, 4-1 order signed by CJ Dickson:

[T]he Court entered an agreed "Published Order Suspending Respondent from the Practice of Law in Indiana for Disability" on August 8, 2013, suspending Respondent from the practice effective as of the date of the order. * * *

[The Commission filed a show cause motion] on October 28, 2013, alleging that Respondent appeared in the Merrillville Town Court on August 26, 2013, and informed the judge that she had been suspended but that her suspension did not take effect for 45 days. Based on this representation, the judge allowed Respondent to continue to represent clients in court. * * *

Through counsel, Respondent admits that she appeared in Merrillville Town Court on August 26, 2013, while suspended. She states, however, that she and her counsel had discussed filing a petition for additional time to close her practice soon after her suspension took effect on August 8, that counsel unfortunately did not file a petition until August 26 (it was actually filed on August 28—after she appeared in court), and that she was under the mistaken belief that she had been granted additional time. The Court notes that it denied Respondent's request for postponement of the effective date of her suspension by order dated September 26, 2013.

Based on Respondent's admissions, the Court finds that Respondent was in contempt of this Court when she appeared and represented clients in court on August 26, 2013, knowing she had been suspended as of August 8, yet affirmatively assuring the judge that her suspension had been postponed without any knowledge of whether a motion to postpone the effective date had even been filed (it had not), let alone whether it had been granted (it was not). * * *

Under the circumstances, the Court concludes that a fine of $300.00 is sufficient discipline for Respondent's contempt of court by practicing law while suspended. * * *

All Justices concur except Rucker, J., who would decline to find Respondent in contempt, concluding that Respondent’s action was simply a matter of miscommunication between Respondent and her attorney.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 10, 2014 01:29 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions