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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court suspends Merrillville attorney without automatic reinstatement

In In the Matter of: Michael E. Halpin, a 2-page, Nov. 10th order, the Court writes:

In several written communications between August 7, 2012 and April 12, 2013, Respondent accused Father’s counsel of having arranged venue in Tippecanoe County by fraud, deceit, and trickery; of intentionally violating Mother’s rights as a disabled person in refusing to transfer venue to Lake County; and in engaging in other unprofessional and unethical conduct. Respondent also wrote to Father’s counsel, “[y]our possibly homophobic, racist, sexist clients should not be using the Courts to further that agenda.” In some of these communications, Respondent threatened to file a disciplinary complaint against Father’s counsel unless counsel would accede to Respondent’s demands that venue be transferred to Lake County. Respondent also accused Father of having stolen money from his client and proposed that Respondent and Mother would not press criminal charges if opposing counsel would agree that the paternity case should be transferred to Lake County.

In April 2013, Respondent filed a motion to correct error in the paternity action with respect to the denial of Mother’s motion for change of venue to Lake County. In the motion to correct error, Respondent accused the judge of taking a “stubbornly injudicious attitude” toward the court proceeding, and further accused the judge of "taking off on detours and frolics that ignore the fact that there are laws in Indiana that the court is supposed to follow and uphold.” Respondent withdrew his appearance in the paternity case shortly thereafter.

The hearing officer found Respondent’s lack of remorse as a fact in aggravation, and Respondent’s lack of prior discipline as a fact in mitigation.

Violations: After a careful review of the parties’ arguments and the evidence, the Court finds that Respondent violated Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and that Respondent failed to comply with Admission and Discipline Rule 22 (Oath of Attorneys) by acting in an offensive manner.

Discipline: For Respondent’s professional misconduct, the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than 60 days, without automatic reinstatement, beginning December 21, 2015.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 12, 2015 11:17 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions