Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues two disciplinary rulings today
In In the Matter of: Steve L. Brejensky, a per curiam, a 4-page, 5-0 opinion, the Court writes:
We find that Respondent, Steve L. Brejensky, engaged in attorney misconduct by committing a crime reflecting adversely on Respondent’s honesty and failing to report his conviction to the Commission. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for at least one year without automatic reinstatement. * * *In In the Matter of: Patrick H. Stern, a 7-page, 4-1 opinion, the Court writes:
Following a bench trial on October 21, 2011, Respondent was convicted of Conversion, a class A misdemeanor. Respondent has never appealed or otherwise challenged his conviction. He did not send a copy of the finding of guilt to the Commission. * * *
For Respondent's professional misconduct, the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than one year, without automatic reinstatement, effective immediately.
We find that Respondent, Patrick H. Stern, engaged in attorney misconduct by failing to provide competent representation, representing clients with conflicting interests, asserting frivolous legal positions, and engaging in deceptive practices with a court and the Commission. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for at least 18 months without automatic reinstatement. * * *
In this case, we find the following substantial facts in aggravation: (1) Respondent has previously been disciplined for incompetence and bringing frivolous lawsuits, see Matter of Stern, 776 N.E.2d 1208 (Ind. 2002); (2) Respondent's conduct was part of a pattern of misconduct that included failing to attain minimum competence in representing clients, filing multiple frivolous lawsuits, and misleading the court in the First Lawsuit and the Commission in its investigation; (3) instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, Respondent blames the judges in the lawsuits, the Commission, and others; and (4) Respondent has shown no insight into his misconduct.
We also observe that Respondent has shown a lack of basic competence in representing himself in this disciplinary proceeding. For instance, he has filed documents that are riddled with typographical and grammatical errors and that are very difficult to understand. In response to the Commission's verified complaint, Respondent asserted a number of frivolous affirmative defenses. In responding to the Commission's discovery requests, Respondent repeatedly deleted, renumbered, and added paragraphs to the requests. Despite several opportunities to correct deficiencies in discovery responses, he still failed to respond to some discovery requests, and he gave incomplete, inaccurate or incomprehensible responses to others. In his answer to the amended complaint, Respondent failed to respond to some allegations, responded falsely to some, and responded "denied admitted" to others. Respondent himself could not explain what "denied admitted" meant. Even after several attempts and, according to his own testimony, answering the allegations to the best of his ability, Respondent was unable to draft a legally sufficient responsive pleading.
In light of his serious deficiencies in representing clients and himself and his refusal to acknowledge any misconduct on his part, the Court has grave concerns about Respondent's current fitness to represent clients in the practice of law. We therefore conclude that Respondent should be suspended from practice and undergo a reinstatement proceeding before resuming practice. * * *
For Respondent's professional misconduct, the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than 18 months, without automatic reinstatement, beginning August 13, 2014. * * *
Dickson, C.J., and Rucker, Massa, and Rush JJ., concur.
David, J., concurs in part but dissents regarding the discipline imposed, believing it to be insufficient.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 2, 2014 01:32 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions