In the Matter of: Paul K. OGDEN, Respondent
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 Robert W. York, 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.
Procedural summary: The Commission filed a " Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action" in two counts against Respondent on March 12, 2013. Respondent then filed a motion to dismiss Count 2, which the Court dismissed as procedurally invalid, see Admis. Disc. R. 23(14)(a); a motion to remove the Commission from the case and appoint a special prosecutor, which the Court denied; and a motion to disqualify the hearing officer, which the Court also denied. The hearing officer filed his report on December 30, 2013, and briefing is now complete. Respondent has filed a motion for oral argument, which we deny. The Court approves the hearing officer's findings of the facts underlying the Commission's charges, which are summarized in relevant part below.
Facts: Count 1. In 2005, an unsupervised estate (" Estate" ) was opened for a decedent who was survived by a spouse and four adult children from a former marriage. One of the children was appointed as personal representative. Judge David H. Coleman was appointed as special judge in 2006. In 2008, Respondent entered his appearance for one of the other children (" Client" ). In 2009, Respondent was successful in having Judge Coleman replaced pursuant to a Trial Rule 53.1 motion.
In 2010, Respondent engaged in correspondence with the children's mother and later with Judge Coleman in which he made highly critical statements about Judge Coleman. Those statements can be summarized into the following categories:
(1) He alleged that Judge Coleman committed malfeasance in the initial stages of the administration of the Estate by allowing it to be opened as an unsupervised estate, by appointing a personal representative with a conflict of interest, and by not requiring the posting of a bond.
(2) He alleged that Judge Coleman committed malfeasance in the subsequent administration of the Estate by, among other things, permitting misconduct by the personal representative, which resulted in dissipation of Estate assets.
(3) He alleged that Judge Coleman should have recused himself from the case because he was a friend of some members of the family, including the personal representative, and thus had a disqualifying conflict of interest.
(4) He alleged that Judge Coleman was unqualified as a judge and he engaged in judicial misconduct in presiding over the Estate.
Based on these statements, the Commission charges that Respondent violated Rule 8.2(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which provides: " A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity ...