The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended Carmel defense attorney Sarah Nagy for not paying her attorney registration fees, not complying with her continuing legal education, as well as disability.
She cannot practice law in the state, but in the future, Nagy can apply for reinstatement. That is upsetting to some of her clients who say they paid her money, but their cases are still unresolved years later.
"She doesn't answer emails or phone calls, she's failed to appear in court," said Grace Moore, who said she hired Nagy in 2006 and paid her $25,000 to handle her son's post-conviction relief case. "It's very disheartening. It doesn't help my trust in attorneys at all."
Court records show Nagy told the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission she had been disabled with lupus complications since August 2011, and had been unable to complete legal work for her clients since spring 2011.
But some clients of Nagy's told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney they had problems with Nagy years before that.
"She got sick in 2010, but what about 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- what happened to those years?" said Patricia Lott, who hired Nagy in 2006 and said she paid the attorney $25,000 to handle her son Mark's post-conviction relief case. "We trusted her."
The Call 6 Investigators looked at Mark Lott's court file and found Nagy filed a notice of appearance in 2006, but filed little else other than changes of address.
"We're just left in limbo," said Lott. "I hired her to do a service, and she didn't."
Lott, Moore and several other clients RTV6 spoke with have filed complaints against Nagy with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, an agency that investigates and prosecutes allegations of attorney misconduct.
Whether a complaint is under investigation is not public record.
"I really don't think the suspension is enough," said Moore. "I think she needs to be disbarred."
The Supreme Court can disbar an attorney, but it doesn't happen often, and when it does, it's often because the attorney committed a crime such as theft.
For example, attorney Douglas Patterson was disbarred on June 20 for theft of client funds.
Sarah Nagy is not facing any criminal charges.
"She is not in compliance with the professional rules of conduct," said Indiana Supreme Court Spokesperson Kathryn Dolan.
Dolan told RTV6 even though Nagy can eventually apply for reinstatement, it's a rigorous process.
"The Supreme Court ultimately has to approve the reinstatement of a suspended attorney," said Dolan. "Any outstanding disciplinary charges or history or allegations of misconduct must be addressed before an attorney is reinstated."
The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission receives roughly 1,500 complaints a year against attorneys, and roughly 40 percent are actionable, according to Dolan.
Clients RTV6 spoke with said they want Nagy to give them their money and files back so they can move on with their cases and hire another attorney.
"She's put people's lives on hold," said Lott.
The professional rules of conduct for attorneys say upon termination of representation, "a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as... surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred."
"I would like to have my money back, I'd like to see her disbarred and I want my files back," said Moore. "We cannot move forward."
RTV6 contacted Nagy via email, phone and stopped by her Carmel apartment Tuesday.
Nagy called Tuesday afternoon from a restricted number and provided an email address, but no phone number.
RTV6 contacted Nagy via the email address provided, but has not heard back.
Court records show Nagy said she had been in contact with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) since May 2011 to help manage her remaining cases.
JLAP Executive Director Terry Harrell could not confirm or deny Nagy had been in touch with them.
The Indiana State Bar Association offers a financial assistance fund, and some of Nagy's clients told RTV6 they're applying for relief.
More Information: Sarah L. Nagy Suspension Order