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In re Krasnoff

Supreme Court of Indiana

June 27, 2018

In the Matter of Douglas L. Krasnoff Respondent.

          Attorney Discipline Action Hearing Officer Helen W. Marchal

          RESPONDENT PRO SE Douglas L. Krasnoff Brownsburg, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Angie L. Ordway, Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         We find that Respondent, Douglas Krasnoff, engaged in attorney misconduct by practicing law while suspended and by intentionally misleading a client regarding his ability to work on her case. For this misconduct, the Court concludes that Respondent should be suspended for at least two years without automatic reinstatement, effective from the date of this opinion.

         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 1997 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 "Verified Complaint for Disciplinary Action" against Respondent on March 28, 2016, and we appointed a hearing officer. Following an evidentiary hearing, the hearing officer issued her report on March 14, 2018, finding Respondent committed violations as charged.

         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).

         In August 2014, "Mother" retained Respondent to seek release of "Son" from an involuntary mental health commitment. In early September, Son was transferred from one mental health facility to another but remained under involuntary commitment.

         Effective October 20, 2014, and continuing through May 27, 2015, Respondent was suspended from the practice of law in Indiana due to his failure to pay costs in a prior disciplinary matter.

         In January 2015, Mother contacted Respondent about securing Son's release, and at Respondent's request Mother paid Respondent $1, 000 for "legal fees." Respondent did not tell Mother he was under a suspension from the practice of law. Respondent rendered legal analysis and advice to Mother but took no court action toward securing Son's release. Mother soon confronted Respondent after discovering he was suspended. Respondent responded by falsely implying that he was able to practice law because his suspension was administrative rather than disciplinary in nature.[1] Respondent also repeatedly responded to Mother's inquiries about the status of the case by telling her that the mental health facilities were being unreasonably nonresponsive to his record requests and that dealing with Son's situation would take some time.

         In late March or early April 2015, Respondent solicited an additional $1, 000 from Mother to continue the representation. Respondent did not tell Mother that he could not request a hearing date from the court due to his suspension. In May, Mother again confronted Respondent after having been informed by staff at Richmond State Hospital that they had not been allowing Respondent to review Son's medical records due to Respondent's suspension. Respondent again tried to alleviate Mother's concerns by emphasizing his suspension was administrative and not disciplinary.

         After Respondent paid his costs and was reinstated to practice in May 2015, he filed an appearance on Son's behalf. Shortly thereafter though, Mother terminated the representation, demanded an explanation from Respondent about his inability to advance Son's case ...


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