In the Matter of Edward R. Hall, Respondent.
Discipline Action Hearing Officer Alger Boswell
RESPONDENT PRO SE Edward R. Hall North Fort Myers, Florida.
ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION
G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Seth Pruden, Staff
Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana.
PER CURIAM OPINION
that Respondent, Edward R. Hall, committed attorney
misconduct by, among other things, disobeying a subpoena and
causing another witness to do the same, neglecting
clients' cases, and engaging in a pattern of dishonesty.
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 2000 admission to
this state's bar subjects him to this Court's
disciplinary jurisdiction. See IND. CONST. art. 7,
Background and Facts
Commission filed a three-count "Disciplinary
Complaint" against Respondent on March 17, 2017, and we
appointed a hearing officer. Following an evidentiary
hearing, the hearing officer issued his report on August 7,
2018, finding Respondent committed violations as charged.
Neither party has filed a petition for review of those
findings or a brief on sanction.
1. A parcel of improved real estate
("Property"), once owned by Respondent, was
transferred to a "Land Trust" in 1995. Laura Hanus,
Respondent's girlfriend (and later Respondent's legal
secretary after Respondent was admitted to the Indiana bar),
became the 100% beneficiary of the Land Trust soon
thereafter. In 2012, the Property became subject to a tax
sale due to the nonpayment of property taxes for several
years. Respondent represented the Land Trust in legal
proceedings that followed, and during those proceedings an
issue arose regarding whether Respondent still had an
ownership interest in the Property. Respondent failed to
comply with discovery and soon was facing motions from the
Lake County Auditor for sanctions and to disqualify
Respondent from representing the Land Trust. The trial court
scheduled a hearing on sanctions for September 4, 2014, at
9:00 a.m., and Respondent and Hanus were subpoenaed to
appear. Respondent falsely informed Hanus that the hearing
would not occur and she need not honor the subpoena. When
neither Respondent nor Hanus appeared for the hearing at 9:00
a.m., the presiding magistrate called Respondent's law
office, spoke with Hanus, and advised her that she and
Respondent needed to appear in court later that morning or be
subject to contempt. Respondent and Hanus then complied.
2. Respondent represented "Client 2," a
manufacturer, in an action against a seller and a rival
manufacturer. The fee agreement was not reduced to writing.
Client 2 offered, and Respondent accepted, a trailer valued
at $9, 000 as a retainer. Shortly thereafter Client 2 paid an
additional $5, 000 at Respondent's request. Six months
after the suit was filed, Respondent sought an additional $5,
000 from Client 2, who indicated an inability to pay.
Respondent then stated he would convert the agreement to a
contingency agreement. However, that agreement was not
reduced to writing and the percentage contemplated for
Respondent's fee is not known.
Respondent had not forwarded discovery requests to Client 2,
and Respondent began avoiding responding to Client 2's
inquiries. Respondent's failure to comply with discovery
led to sanctions against Client 2 and an order to comply.
Respondent did not inform Client 2 of these events until two
days after the deadline to comply, when Respondent told
Client 2 he had five days to gather telephone and sales
records spanning seven years. In February 2015, the court
dismissed Client 2's suit and ordered Client 2 to pay
attorney fees. Respondent did not inform Client 2 of these
events. Months later, the seller sought to place a hold on
Client 2's bank account; when Client 2 asked Respondent
about this, Respondent told him not to worry.
that suit was still pending, in June 2014 Client 2 separately
was sued by a supplier for nonpayment, and Respondent agreed
to represent Client 2 in that matter as well. Unbeknownst to
Client 2, Respondent took no action in that matter, a
judgment was entered against Client 2, and the supplier later
placed a hold on Client 2's bank account. When Client 2
contacted Respondent about this, Respondent falsely told
Client 2 that he had filed the proper papers in that case.
Client 2 later settled that matter on his own.
February 2016, Client 2 sued Respondent for malpractice.
Respondent failed to answer or appear for the default hearing
and a $353, 000 judgment was entered against him. As of the
final hearing in this matter, Respondent has made no payments
to Client 2 toward satisfaction of this judgment.
3. "Client 3" previously had hired another
attorney ("Predecessor Counsel") to bring action
against a contractor or others in connection with
construction defects in Client 3's home. Predecessor
Counsel failed to file suit, resulting in loss of some of
Client 3's claims. Client 3 then hired Respondent to
represent him in contemplation of a similar
construction-defect suit against the general contractor, and
also in contemplation of a legal malpractice action against
Predecessor Counsel. Predecessor Counsel passed away, and
Respondent did not take any further action against
Predecessor Counsel or his estate. Client 3 additionally