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In re Gabriel

Supreme Court of Indiana

April 11, 2019

In the Matter of Marjonie D. Gabriel, Respondent.

         Attorney Discipline Action Hearing Officer Robert C. Reiling

          ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT Peter J. Rusthoven Jack L. Stark, Jr. Indianapolis, 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, Marjonie Gabriel, committed attorney misconduct by knowingly disobeying court orders. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for 90 days with automatic reinstatement.

         This matter is before the Court on the report of the hearing officer appointed by this Court 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

         In 2008, Respondent left a prosecutorial position in California and returned to Indiana to care for her father, who was in deteriorating health. Respondent's father also was in the midst of a separation from his wife (Respondent's estranged mother), who was sequestering and possibly dissipating marital assets.[1] That fall, Respondent's father executed a power-of-attorney appointing Respondent as his attorney-in-fact and stating, in part, that Respondent "shall be entitled to reimbursement for all reasonable expenses incurred on my behalf and . . . may also be entitled to reasonable compensation for any services provided."

         In 2010, a guardianship was opened in Hamilton Superior Court and Respondent was appointed as guardian of her father's person. In 2012, Respondent was appointed by the guardianship court as successor guardian of her incapacitated father's estate.

         In the first several years following her return to Indiana, Respondent expended considerable sums of her own savings on her father's behalf. During this time Respondent also experienced significant health issues of her own, resulting in major medical bills and Respondent's inability to consistently maintain a law practice in Indiana. Respondent's personal savings and assets soon were depleted, and she alternately found herself living temporarily with friends or out of her own vehicle.

         At some point in late 2013 or early 2014, the guardianship received about $40, 000 in proceeds from the sale of Respondent's parents' marital residence.[2] Beginning around the same time, Respondent made dozens of payments and withdrawals from the estate to herself without obtaining the requisite court approval and in violation of a restraining order that had been issued by the guardianship court. During that period, Respondent also failed to file required accountings and failed to comply with several court orders to do so. In early 2016 the guardianship court held Respondent in contempt, appointed a successor guardian, and again ordered Respondent to provide an accounting. Respondent did not do so and was held in contempt again in November 2016. Meanwhile, Respondent's father passed away in September 2016.

         The Commission charged Respondent with violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 3.4(c) based on her knowing disobedience of the guardianship court's orders. Respondent admitted, and the hearing officer found, that Respondent violated this rule.

         The Commission also charged Respondent with violating Rule 8.4(b), based on the Commission's allegations that Respondent's actions amounted to criminal conversion and/or exploitation of an endangered adult. The hearing officer concluded that the Commission had failed to sustain its burden of proving this charge.

         Discussion ...


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