Discipline Action Hearing Officer Jonathan M. Brown
APPEARANCE FOR THE RESPONDENT.
ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION
G. Michael Witte, Executive Director Angie L. Ordway, Staff
Justice Rush and Justices Massa and Goff concur. Justices
David and Slaughter concur in part and dissent in part.
that Respondent, Hilary Bowe Ricks, committed attorney
misconduct by neglecting clients' cases and by failing to
cooperate with the disciplinary process. For this misconduct,
we conclude that Respondent should be suspended for at least
two years without automatic reinstatement.
matter is now before us on the report of the hearing officer
appointed by this Court to hear evidence on the Indiana
Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's amended
disciplinary complaint. Respondent's 1986 admission to
this state's bar subjects her to this Court's
disciplinary jurisdiction. See IND. CONST. art. 7,
Background and Facts
Commission filed a "Disciplinary Complaint" against
Respondent on November 20, 2018, which it later amended.
Respondent was served with the amended complaint but has not
appeared, responded, or otherwise participated in these
proceedings. Accordingly, the Commission filed a "Motion
for Judgment on the Complaint," and the hearing officer
took the facts alleged in the amended disciplinary complaint
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).
1. In 2013, "Client 1" contacted
Respondent regarding his desire to pursue an expungement of
various past criminal proceedings. In April 2014, Respondent
told Client 1 she would charge $991 for the requisite case
filings and $250 to attend any hearing. Respondent required
Client 1 to pay $691 of that amount up front in three
biweekly installments, which Client 1 did. In the ensuing
three-plus years, Respondent never filed an expungement
petition on Client 1's behalf and rarely responded to
Client 1's inquiries. In mid-2017, Respondent told Client
1 that his expungement petition was "next on my
1 filed a grievance with the Commission in November 2017.
Respondent did not timely respond to the Commission's
demand for information and a subsequent subpoena duces tecum,
prompting the initiation of two separate show cause
proceedings. Respondent belatedly complied with the demand
and the subpoena. Respondent told the Commission that she did
not file Client 1's expungement petition because he had
not paid sufficient fees; yet, Client 1 paid the upfront
installments Respondent had requested, and Respondent never
told Client 1 that she was delaying action because of fees
did not refund unearned fees to Client 1 or surrender any
completed work to Client 1.
2. In 2012, "Client 2" hired Respondent to
pursue post-conviction relief ("PCR") on his
behalf. Respondent charged and collected $8, 500 ($3, 500 to
review the case and $5, 000 to file a petition and litigate
it until a ruling was reached). For the next three years,
Respondent grew increasingly less responsive to inquiries
from Client 2 and his wife. Respondent filed an amended ...