January 21, 2014

Respect The Court’s Authority

Category: Attorney Discipline | Author: | Share:

Occasionally, an attorney demonstrates such a profound lack of insight that the person should no longer be an attorney. Fortunately, there are programs like JLAP to help those in need. But sometimes the Indiana Supreme Court must get involved; Timothy Freeman is one such example.

In re Freeman, ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind. 2013), Cause Nos. 49S00-1103-DI-168, 49S00-1105-DI-287, & 49S00-1106-DI-345, tells the tale of an attorney who simply could not follow the rules. During the course of various disciplinary hearings, he was subjected to show cause proceedings for noncooperation with the Disciplinary Commission five times, resulting in his continual suspension from the practice since July 2011. However, Mr. Freeman just couldn’t pull himself away from the practice of law. He continued to send correspondence to opposing counsel, serve discovery requests, appear in court, and file documents in pending cases. Moreover, Mr. Freeman filed an appearance and a complaint in a new case, and accepted a retainer of $500 from an existing client for new work.

The Disciplinary Commission caught wind of this and Freeman was subjected to another show cause order. This ultimately led to an order that Freeman pay a fine and disgorge the retainer, subject to imprisonment if he failed to comply. He complied with this order, but he kept practicing law. In particular, he advised clients in an ongoing eminent domain proceeding.

Again, the Disciplinary Commission found out, and Freeman was again subject to a show cause proceeding. This time, the Court imposed an increased fine ($3,000), disgorgement of all fees associated with the eminent domain proceeding, and ordered that Freeman actually be imprisoned as punishment for his contempt.

I don’t know what Mr. Freeman could have been thinking, and the Court agreed, finding that Freeman had “a profound lack of insight into his duties as an attorney and of respect for this Court’s authority.” If you are having issues, take advantage of institutions like JLAP; don’t make a mess of things like Mr. Freeman did.

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