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Fewer attorneys disciplined in Indiana, report shows

Indiana saw 28 percent drop in discipline cases
Posted: 2:36 PM, Sep 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-09-27 18:36:34Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana saw a 28 percent reduction in attorney discipline cases over the past five years, according to a newly released report from the Indiana Supreme Court.

From July 2016 to June 2017, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission received 1,485 requests for investigation against attorneys for misconduct, and 82 percent were immediately dismissed for not having any validity.

The  Disciplinary Commission investigates and prosecutes attorney misconduct, but the Indiana Supreme Court has the exclusive power to take action against a lawyer’s license to practice law.

The Indiana Supreme Court resolved 93 cases of attorney discipline during fiscal year 2017, records show, including the disbarment of four attorneys.

Call 6 Investigates asked the Indiana Supreme Court about the decrease in attorney discipline cases.

“I’d like to think it’s because the attorneys are doing a better job and listening to the guidance that comes from our decisions,” said Chief Justice Loretta Rush.

Call 6 Investigates reviewed reports for the past few years and found the number of complaints filed against attorneys in Indiana has dropped.

For example, 1,730 complaints were filed in 2011-2012 and 1,678 were filed in 2013-2014 compared to 1,485 complaints this past fiscal year.

Chief Justice Rush also surmised that Rule 23 has had an impact on moving cases forward.

Rule 23, effective January 1, 2017, overhauled the lawyer discipline process and allowed the commission to issue caution letters for low-level misconduct and instituted a one year time limit on the length of an investigation, except if the Supreme Court grants an extension.

Justice Geoffrey Slaughter emphasized that the Indiana Supreme Court is the “end game” when it comes to attorney discipline, and that the commission is the agency that investigates attorney grievances.

“We take it as good news that there are fewer lawyers that need to be disciplined in Indiana,” said Justice Slaughter.

Call 6 Investigates has reported on several attorneys who have faced discipline following criminal charges.

Suspended attorney Julia Compton is expected to appear in Johnson County court in November following her third drunk driving arrest.

In 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court  suspended Compton’s law license for six months,  citing multiple alcohol related arrests within three and a half months.

She also had to serve two years of probation with monitoring from JLAP, the judges and lawyers assistance program.

Compton’s law license is currently suspended for failing to do her continuing legal education, records show.

Richmond Attorney Edward Kemp resigned his law license following his criminal conviction for stealing from his clients.

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