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In re Alexander

Supreme Court of Indiana

June 16, 2014

In the Matter of: Michael J. ALEXANDER, Respondent

All Justices concur.

OPINION

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 Darrin M. Doleharty, 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.

Count 1

Facts: In 2005, Respondent hired Bruce W. McLaren, an attorney who had resigned from the bar in 2003, to work in his law office. McLaren worked on several cases, including a dissolution case in which he performed law-related tasks, including legal research, client interviews, and assisting Respondent at counsel table during trial. When Respondent filed his affidavit for attorney fees in the divorce case, he included an itemized billing for the hours McLaren worked. On December 2, 2005, however, Respondent filed a " Waiver of Fees" withdrawing the part of the attorney fee affidavit related to McLaren's participation. On the same date, Respondent self-reported his employment of McLaren to the then-Executive Secretary of the Disciplinary Commission. Respondent then terminated McLaren's employment. In 2006, McLaren was found in contempt and fined $1,000 for continuing to practice after his resignation. See Matter of McLaren, 850 N.E.2d 400 (Ind. 2006).

Violations: The Court finds that Respondent violated these Indiana Professional Conduct Rules prohibiting the following misconduct:

5.5(a): Assisting in the unauthorized practice of law.
8.4(a): Knowingly assisting another to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Count 2

Discovery-related charges: In 1998, Respondent was retained to represent clients injured in an accident caused by an uninsured drunk driver. Respondent filed suit on behalf of the clients against Outback Steakhouse, alleging that the restaurant served the driver alcohol at a grand opening event when he was already obviously intoxicated. In an early meeting with a waitress at the restaurant, she told Respondent that the driver was visibly intoxicated when she served him alcohol at the grand opening.

As part of the discovery process, the restaurant served interrogatories to Respondent's clients. " Interrogatory 12" asked the clients to disclose the facts upon which they were relying to support their claim that the restaurant had served alcohol to the driver knowing he was already intoxicated, including names and addresses of anyone knowledge of these facts. Respondent did not include the waitress's name in response to Interrogatory 12, although he disclosed the name in another part of the discovery. During deposition in 2001 by the restaurant's counsel, the waitress testified that the driver did not appear to be intoxicated when she served him.

In opening statements at trial in 2003, counsel for the ...


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