In the Matter of: Jennifer F. GRAHAM, Respondent
Brent E. Dickson, Chief Justice of Indiana. All Justices concur.
Brent E. Dickson, Chief
Justice of Indiana.
PUBLISHED ORDER FINDING MISCONDUCT AND IMPOSING DISCIPLINE
Upon review of the report of the hearing officer, the Honorable R. Mark Inman, who was appointed by this Court to hear evidence on the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's " Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action," and the briefs of the parties, the Court finds that Respondent engaged in professional misconduct and imposes discipline on Respondent.
Based on stipulated facts summarized below, the hearing officer filed an " Agreed Hearing Officer's Report and Stipulated Factual Record" on October 31, 2013.
On June 21, 2012, Respondent wrote a $1,100 check on her client trust account payable to herself and deposited it into her operating account. Respondent's check ledger showed the words " HELP ME" typed adjacent to the check number. At the time, she had no more than $10 of her own funds in the trust account and no authority to exercise control over the client funds in the trust account. Respondent used the proceeds of the check to cover losses she incurred from gambling. A few days later, she wrote a $550 check on her client trust account payable to herself, again without authority. Again, her check ledger showed the words " HELP ME" typed adjacent to the check number. This check was dishonored when she presented it for payment. By June 27, 2012, Respondent
fully repaid the $1,100 she had converted from her client trust account.
Respondent admits that she suffers from a compulsive gambling addiction (involving slot machines) which began around July 2010. She has taken a number of steps to address her gambling addiction, and other than one relapse in April 2013, Respondent has abstained from playing slot machines since November 2012.
The Court concludes that the following stipulated facts constitute facts in mitigation: (1) Respondent has no prior disciplinary history; (2) Respondent admits her misconduct and is remorseful; (3) Respondent made full and free disclosure to the Commission; (4) Respondent has an excellent character and reputation, supported by letters from seven individuals, and (5) Respondent has taken steps to address her gambling addiction, including counseling, seeking services through Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (" JLAP" ), and participation in Gamblers Anonymous.
The Court finds that Respondent violated these Indiana Professional Conduct Rules prohibiting the following misconduct:
Rule 8.4(b): Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, i.e., conversion.Rule 8.4(c): Engaging in conduct involving ...