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In re Smith

Supreme Court of Indiana

May 24, 2018

In the Matter of Fronse W. Smith, Jr. Respondent.

         Attorney Discipline Action

Hearing Officer John Tuskey

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Larry D. Newman, Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         We find that Respondent, Fronse Smith, Jr., engaged in attorney misconduct by committing the crime of intimidation. For this misconduct, a majority of the Court concludes that Respondent should be disbarred.

         The matter is now before us 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 2013 admission to this state's bar subjects him to this Court's disciplinary jurisdiction. See IND. CONST. art. 7, § 4.

         Procedural Background and Facts

         The Commission filed a "Disciplinary Complaint" against Respondent on November 28, 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 Complaint, " and the hearing officer took the facts alleged in the disciplinary complaint as true.

         No 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).

         During a phone conversation between Respondent and his estranged wife on May 29, 2015, Respondent threatened that he "was going to split [her] chest open with an axe." Respondent's wife immediately called 911 and drove to a police station. Meanwhile, Respondent sent his wife a text message stating that he was going to dispose of and destroy her property. Respondent drove to his wife's home and was in the process of entering her home when police arrived on the scene with his wife. Respondent was uncooperative and hostile with the officers and told his wife "now you've really done it, " at which point Respondent was arrested. An axe was discovered in the passenger seat of his car.

         As a result of these actions, Respondent was convicted of intimidation, a level 6 felony. The Court of Appeals affirmed Respondent's conviction in October 2016.

         Respondent has been under an order of interim suspension since December 15, 2016, as a result of his felony conviction. Matter of Smith, 64 N.E.3d 837 (Ind. 2016). Respondent also currently is indefinitely suspended for failure to cooperate with the Commission's investigation and is administratively suspended for nonpayment of dues and noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements.

         Discussion and Discipline

         We concur in the hearing officer's findings of fact and conclude that Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b) by committing a criminal act that reflects adversely ...


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