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Monday, September 22, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court suspends Marion County attorney for two years, without automatic reinstatement [Updated]

In In the Matter of: Trezanay M. Atkins, a 5-page opinion in a disciplinary case, the Court writes in a per curiam opinion:

We find that Respondent, Trezanay M. Atkins, engaged in attorney misconduct by committing criminal conversion while acting in a fiduciary capacity and by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for at least two years without automatic reinstatement. * * *

The Marion County Bar Association (the "MCBA") is a local bar association that exists in large part to assist in the professional development of African American attorneys practicing in the Indianapolis area. The MCBA elects and/or appoints officers, including the treasurer, who serves a one-year term. The treasurer of the MCBA serves in a fiduciary capacity.

In 2011, Respondent submitted an application to join the organization and applied for the position of treasurer. Respondent served as treasurer from June 2011 until December 2012. As treasurer, Respondent had signatory authority on the MCBA's checking account at Regions Bank.

Respondent admitted that during her term as treasurer of the MCBA, she misappropriated funds that belonged to the MCBA. She admitted that she converted the proceeds of 30 checks drawn on MCBA's checking account. The memo lines of the unauthorized checks often contained false statements in order to make it appear that the checks were used for legitimate MCBA expenses. Respondent also admitted she converted the proceeds of one debit and the proceeds of 21 counter checks drawn on the MCBA's checking account. The sum of all funds that Respondent admitted she converted was over $9,100.

During her tenure as treasurer of the MCBA, the Respondent was also responsible for preparing monthly financial reports. These reports were distributed to all officers and board members of the MCBA. Respondent falsified the financial reports to conceal her thefts from the MCBA. * * *

We note that Respondent made full restitution to the MCBA. Restitution made only after a client has filed a grievance or after disciplinary proceedings are initiated does not qualify as a mitigating circumstance. * * *

Respondent’s deliberate theft from an association she served as treasurer in violation of her fiduciary duty is among the most serious types of misconduct. The Court concludes that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than two years, without automatic reinstatement.

Conclusion. The Court concludes that Respondent violated the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct by committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on her honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer and by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

For Respondent's professional misconduct, the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than two years, without automatic reinstatement, beginning November 3, 2014.

[Updated on 9/23/14] The IndyStar today has a story about the suspension.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 22, 2014 12:04 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions