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In re Ricks

Supreme Court of Indiana

August 9, 2018

In the Matter of: Hilary Bowe Ricks, Respondent

          PUBLISHED ORDER FINDING MISCONDUCT AND IMPOSING DISCIPLINE

          LORETTA H. RUSH CHIEF JUSTICE.

         Upon review of the report of the hearing officer, the Honorable Matthew C. Kincaid, 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.

         Facts:

         In two separate client matters, Respondent accepted retainers from clients wishing to pursue post-conviction relief. In the first case, Respondent never completed the review of the record for which she had been paid, and never even requested the record from the Court of Appeals. Respondent also did not respond to inquiries from the client or the client's mother regarding the status of the case and, later, their requests for a refund of the unearned portion of the retainer and a return of case materials they had provided to Respondent. In the second case, after about one year of apparent inaction, the client and a prison volunteer acting on her behalf requested on multiple occasions that Respondent forward the client's funds held in trust to another legal service provider, but Respondent did not respond to those requests.

         After both clients filed grievances, Respondent failed to comply with the Commission's investigations, resulting in the initiation of two separate noncooperation proceedings. Respondent eventually cooperated after this Court issued show cause orders, acknowledging in both of her responses that she had no excuse or justification for having failed to timely comply.

         In 2017, Respondent was diagnosed with panic and depressive disorders. Respondent suffered from these conditions at the time of the events described above, but they had not yet been diagnosed. Since her diagnosis, Respondent has been involved with the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) and has been undergoing treatment and working toward recovery.

         Respondent has prior discipline for similar misconduct. Matter of Ricks, 835 N.E.2d 208 (Ind. 2005).

         Violations:

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

1.3: Failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness.
1.4(a)(4): Failing to comply promptly with a client's reasonable requests for information.
1.16(d): After the termination of representation, failing to refund an unearned fee and to promptly return to a client case file materials to which the client is entitled.
8.1(b): Knowingly failing to respond to a lawful demand for information from a ...

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