Typical Fraudulent Scam Email

Now that many lawyers are working from home be aware of email scams like this one:

My Name is Micheal Crowe,I am requesting to know if you can help to enforce a loan agreement. I assisted a business associate/friend Mr.James Smith(who lives in your state and had the agreement in accordance with the laws of the same)a loan and he has defaulted to make payment at the stipulated time.I want to take legal action to see that the money is repaid back to me.Please let me know if you can be of assistance to me or make a referral.

There are several red flags in this email. First, the debtor has a common name “Mr.James Smith.” Second, he states that the debtor “who lives in your state and had the agreement in accordance with the laws of the same.” Third, note that the debtor “has defaulted to make payment at the stipulated time.” This is clearly someone who is not familiar with the English language.

Comment: if you have a question about a potential scam, talk to a colleague or the ARDC or an ethics attorney.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

ARDC Hearing Board Recommends Disbarment for Former Governor

The case captioned In re Rod R. Blagojevich, 19 PR 00061, the ARDC Hearing Board recommended disbarment for the former governor. He was placed on interim suspension in 2011, but his disciplinary case was not completed until his prison sentence was commuted by President Trump. The Hearing Board, in a brief opinion, explained why disbarment was appropriate:

The hearing in this matter was held on February 25, 2020, at the Chicago offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, before a Hearing Board Panel consisting of Carl (Carlo) E. Poli, Chair, Jennifer W. Russell, and Jim Hofner. Respondent was not present. Sheldon M. Sorosky appeared on Respondent’s behalf. Christopher R. Heredia and Jonathan M. Wier appeared on behalf of the Administrator and recommended that Respondent be disbarred.

We have considered the following: the Administrator’s one-count Complaint, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit 1; the Order entered on September 10, 2019, deeming the allegations of the Complaint admitted, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit 2; and the Administrator’s Exhibits 1-6, which were admitted into evidence.

Respondent, the former Governor of the State of Illinois, was convicted of committing numerous crimes while he was in office. Those crimes included wire fraud, attempt to commit extortion, corrupt solicitation, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit corrupt solicitation, and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. secs. 371, 666(a)(1)(B), 1001(a)(2), 1343, 1346, and 1951(a). Respondent’s convictions of these crimes were upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Supreme Court of the United States denied Respondent’s petitions for writ of certiorari. On October 26, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court placed Respondent on interim suspension, which is still in effect.

Respondent was represented by counsel throughout this proceeding but elected not to file an answer, comply with discovery requests, appear for deposition, or appear at the hearing in this matter. While he was incarcerated, Respondent’s appearance at the hearing had been waived. The Panel takes judicial notice, however, that Respondent’s sentence was commuted and he was released from prison on February 18, 2020. Therefore, it was possible for Respondent to appear for his disciplinary hearing.

There are numerous factors that aggravate Respondent’s misconduct. As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and elected official, Respondent was well aware of his obligation to uphold the law, and, as governor, he took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of governor to the best of his ability. Instead of doing so, he sought to further his own interests by engaging in a pattern of dishonest and deceptive conduct. While Respondent, by his attorney, acknowledged the fact of his convictions, he has not acknowledged that his conduct was wrongful or expressed any remorse. His failure to appear for his disciplinary hearing demonstrates a lack of respect for the disciplinary process and the legal profession. We have considered that Respondent has no prior discipline, but this minimal mitigation does not impact our recommendation.

The following cases cited by the Administrator support the recommendation of disbarment: In re Pappas, 92 Ill. 2d 243 (1982); In re Rosenthal, 73 Ill. 2d 46 (1978).

Based on Respondent’s egregious misconduct, the substantial amount of aggravation, the case law presented by the Administrator, and the lack of case law or any mitigation evidence  presented by Respondent, we conclude that a recommendation of disbarment is warranted.

Accordingly,

  1. “Respondent’s counsel accepted electronic service of the Complaint and accompanying documents. A copy of the Entry of Appearance and Acceptance of Service Pursuant to Rule 214(d) filed on August 8, 2019 is attached as Exhibit 3.
  2. The allegations of the Complaint were deemed admitted in an Order filed on September 10, 2019. A copy of that Order is attached as Exhibit 2.
  3. In consideration of the Order deeming the allegations of the Complaint admitted, we find Respondent committed the misconduct charged in the Complaint.
  4. Given Respondent’s serious misconduct, the significant aggravation, and the case law cited by the Administrator, we recommend that Respondent, Rod R. Blagojevich, be disbarred.
  5. The Panel has concluded that this report format will adequately and appropriately communicate its recommendation to the Court.”

North Carolina Issues Advisory Opinion On Responding to Negative Reviews

One of the more common problems lawyers face is the negative online review. (Yes, I am proud to say that I have earned the ire of two prospective clients who published reviews of me). Lawyers tend to get into trouble when they share confidential client information in response to a negative review. Like most gaffs the information is true and accurate, but it is confidential to the lawyer. Lawyers have been disciplined for disclosing confidential information in responses to online reviews.

My advice is that any negative review should receive a response such as “I respectfully disagree with this review.” The North Carolina Bar Association has issued an advisory opinion that makes a similar recommendation. The recommendation can be found here https://www.ncbar.gov/for-lawyers/ethics/proposed-opinions/

In response to the former client’s negative online review, Lawyer may post a proportional and restrained response that does not reveal any confidential information. The protection of client confidences is one of the most significant responsibilities imposed on a lawyer. Rule 1.6(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer may not reveal information acquired during the professional relationship with a client unless (1) the client gives informed consent, (2) the disclosure is impliedly authorized, or (3) one of the exceptions set out in Rule 1.6(b) applies. Rule 1.6(a) applies to all information acquired during the representation. Under Rule 1.9(c), a lawyer is generally prohibited from using or revealing confidential information of a former client. Therefore, Lawyer may not reveal confidential information in response to the negative online review unless the former client consents or an exception set out in Rule 1.6(b) applies. See 2018 FEO 1 (lawyers are cautioned to avoid disclosing confidential client information when responding to a negative review).

Comment: when you receive a negative review you should (a) assess the situation privately; (b) determine if it is something you can control; and (c) respond in a low-key fashion. Remember that negative reviews are just part of practicing law in the digital age. Take your lumps and move on. You will be just fine.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

Ohio Reprimands Lawyer For Violation of Rule 7.3(a)

This case, Columbus Bar Assn. v. Bahan, 2020-Ohio-434, decided February 12, 2020, involved a lawyer who learned that a woman had been incarcerated and had been charged with murder. Ms. Bahan visited the defendant in the jail and solicited employment. Although she was not retained, Ms. Bahan was disciplined by the Supreme Court of Ohio for violating Rule 7.3(a) (“a lawyer shall not, by in-person, live-telephone, or real-time electronic contact, solicit professional employment when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain”). The facts show an assertive effort to obtain employment in an important case.

{¶ 4}Bahan was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2005 and has never been the subject of disciplinary proceedings in this court. She is a solo practitioner and primarily practices criminal defense, juvenile law, and probate law.

{¶ 5}On March 10, 2017, Kennedy was arrested for the murder of her husband and taken to the Logan County jail. Bahan did not know Kennedy but became interested in the case after learning of the arrest and seeing Kennedy’s picture on the Internet. Bahan thought that perhaps Kennedy had been a victim of domestic violence and that the entire incident had arisen because Kennedy was trying to protect herself. Bahan contacted attorney Marc Triplett to ask him what he thought about her visiting Kennedy in jail. Triplett is an experienced criminal-defense lawyer who is certified to be court-appointed counsel in murder cases. Bahan had worked with Triplett as co-counsel in previous felony cases. Triplett advised Bahan that he did not see any problem with visiting Kennedy for the purpose of assuring that Kennedy’s rights were protected.

{¶ 6}Bahan visited Kennedy at the jail the day after Kennedy’s arrest. Bahan advised Kennedy not to give any statements to the police. She also advised Kennedy that she needed an attorney and that Kennedy needed to consider whether she could afford to retain private counsel. She also explained how Logan County appoints counsel for defendants who cannot afford private counsel. Kennedy told Bahan she was considering hiring Triplett to represent her and asked Bahan to contact Triplett. At a second visit with Kennedy, Bahan brought a proposed fee agreement listing only her name as counsel and also discussed legal strategy with Kennedy. Kennedy was then indicted for murder; her arraignment was scheduled for March 17. Bahan met Kennedy’s daughters and examined the crime scene. At that meeting, Bahan discussed her legal fees and requested a down payment. She also asked Kennedy’s daughters whether they had access to Kennedy’s bank accounts and credit cards and discussed the possibility of selling assets and SUPREME COURT OF OHIO 4livestock, but the parties agree that Bahan asked these questions in part to determine whether Kennedy was eligible for court-appointed counsel.

{¶ 7}When Bahan contacted Triplett as Kennedy had requested, Triplett told Bahan that he could not represent Kennedy. Nonetheless, Bahan filed a notice of appearance in Kennedy’s case as well as a request for a bill of particulars, a motion to preserve evidence, and a demand for discovery. Bahan also visited Kennedy at the jail a final time and there learned that Kennedy knew that Triplett could not represent her. Kennedy told Bahan that she had retained other counsel. Bahan contacted Kennedy’s new counsel to confirm that Kennedy would have representation at her arraignment and withdrew from Kennedy’s case. In a text to the daughters, Bahan indicated that she hoped she would be paid for the work she had performed on Kennedy’s behalf. On April 14, Bahan sent Kennedy an itemized bill in the amount of $1,400; this amount included charges of $300 for the first jail visit and $400 for the second jail visit. Kennedy did not pay the bill, and Bahan did not pursue Kennedy for payment.

Comment: there is a long tradition in the legal profession which frowns upon lawyers who contact prospective clients directly and seek to represent them. (This is the same tradition that frowns upon advertising) This reprimand is consistent with that tradition. Note it is not a violation of Rule 7.3(a) if you know the defendant or if the defendant’s family members contact you and send you to the jail to meet the client or if you are a public defender appointed by the court.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

http://www.clintonlaw.net

Ohio Orders One-Year Stayed Suspension For Sex With Client

The only issue in the case of Akron Bar Association v. Fortado, 2020 Ohio 517.J, was the attorney’s sexual relationship with his client. The relationship commenced after the attorney-client relationship. The lawyer violated Rule 1.8J which prohibits sex with a client (unless the lawyer and client had a pre-existing sexual relationship). The facts are described in this way:

{¶ 6}In February 2011, M.S. retained Fortado to represent her in a civil matter. Approximately six months later, Fortado commenced an intimate sexual relationship with M.S. Fortado’s legal representation of M.S. concluded in February 2012, with the settlement and dismissal of the action filed against M.S. After their intimate relationship concluded in the fall of 2014, Fortado represented M.S. in two other civil matters. Their relationship remained friendly until 2016, when M.S. discharged Fortado as her attorney in a personal-injury case. Fortado testified that M.S. initiated the intimate relationship by making repeated friendly overtures toward him and that he truly cared—and continues to care—for her. But he also admitted without qualification that it was wrong for him to have entered into the intimate relationship while he represented M.S. {¶ 7}The parties stipulated, the board found, and we agree that Fortado’s conduct violated Prof.Cond.R. 1.8(j).

… {¶ 21}Based on the unique facts of this case—including the absence of any evidence of coercion, Fortado’s acceptance of responsibility for his wrongdoing, his full cooperation in these proceedings, and his strong character and reputation evidence—and having carefully considered the sanctions we have imposed in other cases involving similar misconduct, we sustain Fortado’s objection to the board’s recommended sanction. Moreover, we agree that a conditionally stayed one-year suspension is the appropriate sanction for Fortado’s misconduct. {¶ 22}Accordingly, Matthew Fortado is suspended from the practice of law for one year, fully stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct. If Fortado fails to comply with the condition of the stay, the stay will be lifted and he will serve the entire one-year suspension. Costs are taxed to Fortado.

Comment: it is unusual for a lawyer who engaged in a sexual relationship with a client to avoid a suspension. Indeed, Justice Kennedy dissented on the ground that the lawyer should have received at least a six month suspension from the practice of law.

Illinois Hearing Board Recommends 60-Day Suspension for Lawyer Who Ignored MCLE Requirements

The ARDC Hearing Board ordered a 60-day suspension for a lawyer who did not comply with the MCLE (continuing legal education) requirements and practiced while he was removed from the Master Roll of attorneys.

The Hearing Board Opinion, dated January 2, 2020, summarizes the facts in this manner:

Respondent was employed as an Assistant McLean County State’s Attorney from July 5, 2016 through November 29, 2017. (Tr. 158). Between April 19, 2017 and November 21, 2017, Respondent routinely appeared in court on behalf of the State and was responsible for about 300 cases at a time. He practiced law during that time. (Tr. 169-71).

A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction. Ill. Rs. Prof’l Conduct R. 5.5(a). An attorney who practices law when he or she has been removed from the master roll for failing to comply with MCLE requirements violates Rule 5.5(a). In re James, 09 CH 40, M.R. 25222 (May 18, 2012).

Respondent’s defense involved his state of mind, i.e. that he thought he had completed the MCLE requirements and did not know he had been removed from the master roll. However, to prove a violation of Rule 5.5(a), the Administrator is not required to establish that the attorney intentionally or knowingly engaged in the unauthorized practice. Thomas, 2012 IL 113035 at par. 77. Rule 5.5(a) is a strict liability offense and makes no exception for an attorney who is uninformed or confused about the status of his or her license. Id.; see also In re Susman, 2009PR00126, M.R. 26102 (Sept. 25, 2013). Respondent was removed from the master roll on April 19, 2017. He continued to practice law thereafter. The Administrator proved Respondent violated Rule 5.5(a).

The ARDC Hearing Panel noted that there was some aggravating circumstances. Essentially the lawyer ignored the MCLE reporting system and tried to prove attempted compliance by claiming that he called the MCLE Board and spoke with them.

The Illinois Attorney CLE system is easy to use. The system requires you to log on every two years and certify, under oath, that you completed the coursework (20+ hours of coursework including some ethics coursework). You can ask for an extension to complete the courses, but you must truthfully own up to the fact that you did not complete them on time. I have had no issues with this system or the CLE requirements of Illinois.

Should you find yourself in such a sticky situation, do not hesitate to contact me. I can often resolve something like this before it gets out of hand.

Ed Clinton, Jr.

The source document is In Re William Layne Roberts, 2019 PR 21.

ARDC Accuses Lawyer of Double-Billing

Tbe ARDC has filed a complaint against a lawyer accusing him of double billing clients. Because these allegations are unproven, I won’t share his name in this post.

1. Respondent was employed at the Chicago law firm of Vedder Price, P.C., from 2005 (when he was hired to work as a summer associate) through October 2, 2019 (when his employment was terminated as a result of the events described in this complaint). During his time at the firm, Respondent was involved in the representation of a financial institution (“the client”) in various finance and leasing matters involving other companies. The client’s agreements with its lessees allowed for the firm’s fees for services it provided the client to be billed to the lessees (i.e., the client’s customers) under certain circumstances.

2. In 2009, the firm performed services for a separate client (a construction company) in connection with a contract dispute. The firm assigned that matter an internal number that it used for billing purposes, and Respondent was aware of that number because he was the billing attorney responsible for the matter. That billing number became dormant in 2011, about two years after the firm’s involvement in the contract dispute ended.

3. Prior to January 17, 2018, attorneys and others at the firm performed services having a value of $23,782.50 for the client in connection with the novation of a lease from one lessee to another lessee (an affiliate of the original lessee). Around that time, Respondent instructed the firm’s accounting department to reactivate the formerly dormant billing number associated with the matter referred to in paragraph two, above, and he fabricated a billing invoice addressed to the client’s customer that asked the customer to pay the firm $23,782.50. Respondent later caused that fabricated invoice to be sent to the client’s customer, which paid the full amount listed in the invoice to the firm.

4. When the firm received the $23,782.50 payment in response to the fabricated invoice, Respondent directed the firm’s accounting department apply that payment as a credit to the formerly dormant billing account, which he controlled.

5. Respondent also caused the client to be billed separately for the legal services the firm provided in connection with the novation of the lease, using the client’s actual billing number. When the firm received payment from the client, it applied that payment to the client’s account. 

6. Between January 31, 2018 and September 27, 2019, Respondent fabricated an additional eight invoices to the client’s customers, each of which used the formerly dormant billing account number rather than the client’s actual billing number. At least some of those invoices asked that payment be sent to Respondent’s home rather than to the firm. As payments totaling $108,674 were received in connection with those invoices, Respondent caused those amounts to be transferred to the dormant account that he controlled. At the same time, Respondent continued to bill the client for the same legal services, and to apply any payments resulting from those invoices to the client’s account.

7. Respondent did not tell anyone associated with the client or with the firm about the fact that he was billing both the client and its customers for certain legal services, or that he was using a formerly dormant billing number to receive payments resulting from the fabricated invoices.

8. In 2018 and 2019, Respondent caused business and personal expenses that he incurred (including golf fees, dining and travel expenses) to be charged against the formerly dormant account, and requested and received payment of at least $79,790.43 from that account. Respondent knew that neither the firm nor the client were aware that he was charging those expenses to the formerly dormant account, and that neither the firm nor the client had authorized him to use those funds or that account to pay for his business and personal expenses. Respondent’s receipt and use of those funds constitutes conversion.

9. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, by conduct including fabricating invoices using a dormant billing number, double-billing for the same services, and converting payments from the fabricated invoices, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of facts and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Comment: If proven, this is an almost-certain disbarment.

Wisconsin Suspends Attorney Six Months For Fabricating Travel Receipts

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in an opinion released on December 18, 2019, has disciplined an attorney for submitting false receipts for (a) an ABA meeting and (b) hotel charges for attending another seminar.

The opinion recites the key facts as follows:

¶7 In October 2016, Attorney Bant and her supervisor agreed that Attorney Bant would attend an American Bar Association seminar in New Orleans, Louisiana. On October 31, 2016, Attorney Bant submitted a request for reimbursement of the $1,115 fee listed on a fabricated seminar registration receipt that Attorney Bant had created using computer editing software. The fabricated receipt listed the dates of the seminar as December 8 and 9, 2016, even though the seminar was actually scheduled to take place on November 3 and 4, 2016. Attorney Bant’s employer paid her the requested sum of $1,115 for the seminar fee.

¶8 Attorney Bant told her employer that she would fly to New Orleans for the seminar on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, and would attend the seminar on December 8 and 9, 2016. But Attorney Bant did not go to New Orleans on those dates; as mentioned above, the seminar had occurred over a month earlier. A coworker spotted Attorney Bant in town on the morning of Friday, December 9, 2016.

The lawyer submitted other false documents, including fake Uber receipts, when she was confronted by her supervisor.

The lawyer resigned from the firm and reimbursed the firm for the false charge for the ABA meeting. the investigation also uncovered a bill for a hotel stay that was fraudulent.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered a six-month suspension of the attorney.

¶26 Turning now to the question of the proper level of discipline, we agree with the referee’s recommendation for a six- month license suspension. Our precedent demonstrates that this court takes a dim view of a lawyer’s creation and use of false documentation for the purpose of misleading others. For example, in In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Donovan, 211 Wis. 2d 451, 564 N.W.2d 772 (1997), this court imposed a six-month license suspension on an attorney who filed false documents with the court in order to obtain favorable treatment for an acquaintance and for a former boyfriend in cases she was prosecuting as a municipal attorney. In In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Spangler, 2016 WI 61, 370 Wis. 2d 369, 881 N.W.2d 35, this court imposed a six-month suspension on an attorney who created an array of meticulously faked documents to support false representations made to his clients that their lawsuits were pending when in fact they were not. We particularly noted in Spangler that the misconduct involved was not “a passive type of error,” but was rather “an affirmative act of deception and a betrayal of the trust” others had placed in the respondent-lawyer. Id., ¶36.

The case is In the Matter of Bant, 2019 WI 107.

Three Indiana Judges Suspended For Participating In A Brawl at a White Castle

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/14/779339897/3-indiana-judges-suspended-after-white-castle-brawl-that-left-2-of-them-wounded

The NPR story lays out the facts of this bizarre encounter between three very drunk judges and two assailants, Alfredo Vasquez and Brandon Kaiser. The encounter began after a night of alcohol consumption when one of the judges raised her middle finger to Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Kaiser who were driving in a car near a White Castle parking lot. The two men parked the car and an argument began. Things rapidly escalated and there was a brawl between two of the judges and two assailants. One of the assailants had a gun and shot the Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs. The opinion does note that two judges sustained gun shot wounds and that all three judges accepted responsibility and cooperated with the investigation.

The Indiana Supreme Court summarized the facts in this fashion:

At around 12:30 a.m. on May 1, Respondents and Clark Circuit Court Magistrate William Dawkins (“Magistrate Dawkins”) met at a local bar, where they continued to drink alcohol. At around 3:00 a.m., the group walked to a strip club and tried to enter, but found that it was closed.

The group then walked to a nearby White Castle. While Magistrate Dawkins went inside, Respondents stood outside the restaurant. At around 3:17 a.m., Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser drove past the group and shouted something out the window. Judge Bell extended her middle finger to Vazquez and Kaiser, who pulled into the White Castle parking lot and exited the vehicle. Judge Bell, who was intoxicated, has no memory of the incident but concedes that the security camera video shows her making this gesture.

A heated verbal altercation ensued, with all participants yelling, using profanity, and making dismissive, mocking, or insolent gestures toward the other group. At no time did Respondents move to another location in the parking lot to avoid a confrontation or de-escalate the conflict.

After a verbal exchange between Judge Bell and Vazquez, a physical confrontation ensued. At one point, Judge Jacobs had Kaiser contained on the ground. With his fist raised back, Judge Jacobs said, “Okay, okay, we’re done, we’re done,” or “This is over. Tell me this is over,” or words to that effect. At another point during the confrontation, Judge Adams kicked Kaiser in the back. The confrontation ended when Kaiser pulled out a gun, shot Judge Adams once, and shot Judge Jacobs twice.

Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs were transported to local hospitals for treatment of their serious injuries. Judge Adams, who sustained a single gunshot wound to the abdomen, had two emergency surgeries, including a colon resectioning. Judge Jacobs, who sustained two gunshot wounds to the chest, also had two emergency surgeries and was hospitalized for 14 days.

The opinion explains the reasoning for the suspensions as follows:

The Commission charges, and Respondents agree, that their respective conduct violated the following provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

• Rule 1.2, requiring judges to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, independence, and impartiality of the judiciary; and

• Rule 3.1(C), prohibiting judges from participating in extrajudicial activities that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s integrity, independence, or impartiality.

The Commission further charges, and Judge Adams agrees, that his conduct violated Rule 1.1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires a judge to respect and comply with the law.

Our legal system “is based upon the principle that an independent, impartial, and competent judiciary, composed of men and women of integrity, will interpret and apply the law that governs our society.” Ind. Code of Judicial Conduct, Preamble. The effectiveness of the judiciary ultimately rests on the trust and confidence that citizens confer on judges. Judges, therefore, must remain vigilant to guard against any actions that erode that public trust. Respondents’ alcohol-fueled actions during the early morning hours of May 1, 2019, fell far short of the Code’s directive to “aspire at all times to conduct that ensures the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence.” Id.

Respondents acknowledge that their misconduct damaged the public’s respect for and confidence in the integrity of the Indiana judiciary, both within the state and nationally. Their misconduct occurred while they were in Indianapolis for a statewide judicial educational event, and Judge Adams’s misconduct resulted in a criminal conviction.

The Conditional Agreements note, as mitigators, the following factors:

• Respondents have no prior disciplinary history as judges or as lawyers and this misconduct constitutes an isolated incident in their judicial careers;

• Respondents have accepted responsibility and expressed remorse for their conduct;

• Respondents have made efforts to address their behavior by contacting the Judges & Lawyers Assistance Program and by seeing counselors;

• Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs suffered serious physical injuries as a result of the altercation;

• After the physical altercation began, Judge Bell made several attempts to stop the fighting, including seeking help from those inside the White Castle by pounding on the door;

• Judge Bell immediately called 911 after shots were fired;

• Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs have been active leaders in their community; and

• Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs cooperated fully with the Commission and have been forthcoming about the incident.

“The purpose of judicial discipline is not primarily to punish a judge, but rather to preserve the integrity of and public confidence in the judicial system and, when necessary, safeguard the bench and public from those who are unfit.” In re Hawkins, 902 N.E.2d 231, 244 (Ind. 2009). The sanction must be designed to deter similar misconduct and assure the public that judicial misconduct will not be condoned. Id.

Comment: Judge Adams and Judge Jacobs were suspended for 60 days. Judge Bell was suspended for 30 days. The brawl would have gotten any judge or lawyer suspended. What made the incident much worse was the presence of a handgun and the bad decision to shoot the gun. Criminal charges remain pending against Kaiser and Vasquez.