In the Matter of: John Downey Pierce, Respondent.
Discipline Action Hearing Officer John A. Rader
Attorneys for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary
Commission G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Rachel B.
Gallagher, Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana
that Respondent, John Downey Pierce, committed attorney
misconduct by, among other things, mismanaging his trust
account, converting client funds, disobeying a court order,
and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary process. For
this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be
matter is before the Court on the report of the hearing
officer appointed by this Court to hear evidence on the
Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's verified
"Disciplinary Complaint." Respondent's 1999
admission to this state's bar subjects him to this
Court's disciplinary jurisdiction. See Ind.
Const. art. 7, § 4.
Background and Facts
Commission filed a "Disciplinary Complaint" against
Respondent on March 17, 2017. Respondent was served with the
complaint but has not appeared, responded, or otherwise
participated in these proceedings. Accordingly, the
Commission filed a "Motion for Judgment on the
Disciplinary Complaint, " and the hearing officer took
the facts alleged in the disciplinary complaint as true.
petition for review of the hearing officer's report has
been filed. When neither party challenges the findings of the
hearing officer, "we accept and adopt those findings but
reserve final judgment as to misconduct and sanction."
Matter of Levy, 726 N.E.2d 1257, 1258 (Ind. 2000).
1. In September 2015, Respondent commingled personal and
client funds in his trust account and wrote three checks from
his trust account for personal expenses, which resulted in an
overdraft. The Commission began investigating and requested
client ledgers. Respondent kept insufficient client ledgers,
and the documents he eventually produced for the Commission
were false and failed to reflect the source of all funds
deposited into the account or sequences of transactions
affecting the respective clients.
2. On April 5, 2016, Respondent failed to appear in
court for his clients' uncontested adoption hearing. The
judge admonished Respondent and ordered him to complete the
required paperwork for his clients, which Respondent assured
the judge he would do. When Respondent failed to complete the
paperwork, the judge scheduled a show cause hearing for May
5. Respondent appeared at that hearing, which then was
continued to May 18 to give Respondent time to comply with
the court's orders. Respondent did not appear at the May
18 hearing, but filed a motion to continue that morning,
which was denied. The judge filed a grievance with the
Commission, and in his response to the grievance Respondent
admitted the judge's assertions were accurate.
3. In July 2016, the Commission demanded a response from
Respondent with respect to another grievance. Respondent
failed to respond, leading to the initiation of show cause
hearing officer cited as aggravating factors Respondent's
disciplinary history, his dishonest and selfish motive, his
pattern of misconduct comprising multiple offenses, the
criminal nature of some of his misconduct, his deceptive
practices during the Commission's investigation, his
substantial experience in the practice of law, and his
failure to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his actions.
concur in the hearing officer's findings of fact and
conclude that Respondent violated these Indiana Professional