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In re Lewis

Supreme Court of Indiana

December 28, 2018

In the Matter of Kirmille D. Lewis, Respondent.

          Attorney Discipline Action Hearing Officer Lloyd H. Milliken, Jr.

         NO APPEARANCE FOR THE RESPONDENT

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Seth T. Pruden, Staff Attorney

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         We find that Respondent, Kirmille Lewis, committed attorney misconduct by, among other things, converting client funds, neglecting clients' cases, and engaging in a pattern of dishonesty. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be disbarred.

         The 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 2009 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 six-count disciplinary complaint on June 12, 2018, and we appointed a hearing officer. After unsuccessful attempts to serve Respondent by certified mail at her business address and two other addresses associated with Respondent, 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).

         Count 1.

         Respondent represented "Client 1" in bankruptcy proceedings. Client 1's case eventually was dismissed due to failure to make plan payments. Respondent had withdrawn the necessary funds from Client 1's account, but rather than forwarding those funds to the bankruptcy trustee, Respondent instead used the funds for her own personal benefit or for the benefit of other clients. Respondent failed to provide a court-ordered accounting. Respondent issued a personal check to the court to cover the funds she had converted from Client 1, but that check was rejected for insufficient funds. When Respondent failed to appear for a subsequent hearing, the U.S. Marshal's office seized Respondent and brought her to court. Respondent provided conflicting statements to the court regarding the whereabouts of Client 1's funds and falsely told the court that she could not reach Client 1 and that Client 1 had failed to provide her with the trustee payments.

         Count 2.

         Respondent represented "Client 2" in bankruptcy proceedings. Client 2's home had been sold at a tax sale for non-payment of real estate taxes. The bankruptcy was filed during the redemption period and the plan required Client 2 to make payments to the trustee to cover the cost of real estate taxes. Respondent inaccurately told Client 2 that she did not need to begin making those payments until ordered to do so by the court, which resulted in Client 2's plan payments being in default from the outset of the case. Respondent also failed to prepare a new wage assignment after Client 2 notified her that Client 2 had changed jobs. Client 2's case soon was pending dismissal due to the default on plan payments. Respondent filed a motion to modify the plan but failed to appear at a hearing scheduled on the motion. The court rescheduled the hearing, but Respondent then withdrew the modification motion and the bankruptcy case was dismissed. Respondent later falsely told Client 2 the case was still pending and demanded an additional attorney fee. By the time Client 2 learned of the dismissal, the redemption period had expired and Client 2 no longer could save her house through the bankruptcy plan.

         Coun ...


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