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In re Brewer

Supreme Court of Indiana

November 16, 2018

In the Matter of Tia R. Brewer, Respondent.

         Attorney Discipline Action Hearing Officer Emily C. Guenin-Hodson

          NO APPEARANCE FOR THE RESPONDENT

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Aaron Johnson, Staff Attorney

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         We find that Respondent, Tia R. Brewer, committed attorney misconduct by, among other things, neglecting clients' cases, failing to appear at show cause hearings, failing to withdraw from cases when her abuse of cocaine rendered her unable to assist her clients, committing a crime that reflects adversely on her fitness as a lawyer, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary process. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for at least three years without automatic reinstatement.

         The matter is 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 2004 admission to this state's bar subjects her 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 May 30, 2018. After service by certified mail at Respondent's address was unsuccessful, constructive service was made upon the Clerk as Respondent's agent pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 23(23.1)(c). Respondent has not appeared or responded 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).

         Counts 1 through 11.

         Respondent was hired by eleven separate clients to represent them in various criminal and family law cases. She neglected each case. Respondent failed to keep one client informed regarding the status of the client's case and failed to inform three clients that Respondent was not going to attend a hearing prior to her failure to attend. She failed to return a client's file after being terminated. She missed the deadline to file an Appellant's Brief, resulting in dismissal of the client's appeal, though the Court of Appeals later allowed a belated appeal.

         Respondent failed to attend hearings in nine of the cases, two of which were final hearings in family law matters. Respondent's failure to attend hearings resulted in three show cause proceedings against her. Respondent appeared at one show cause hearing and admitted she was suffering from personal issues. In the other two, Respondent failed to appear. After the court entered a bench warrant against Respondent in one case, Respondent appeared and admitted she had not appeared for a change of plea hearing or the show cause hearing because she was voluntarily intoxicated at the time. Respondent has admitted to abusing cocaine during much of this period, rendering her unable to assist her clients.

         Count 12.

         On May 26, 2017, when the bench warrant was served on Respondent, she was incoherent and impaired. Law enforcement found cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia in Respondent's possession. She was charged with one Level 6 felony and two misdemeanors. She pled guilty to possession of cocaine as a ...


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