Saturday, October 04, 2014

Ogden Gives Up Practice Of Law Due To Onerous Fine For Exercising Free Speech Rights

Fellow attorney and blogger Paul Ogden may have been allowed by the Indiana Supreme Court to keep his license to practice law after the Disciplinary Commission committed extraordinary resources to ending his legal career for speaking his mind about a judge's actions in a private e-mail as attorneys across the state have done countless times, but the onerous fine levied against him has led him to the decision to leave the practice of law. The Disciplinary Commission, which ignores egregious violations committed by prominent lawyers in this state against the public, ran up a more than $20,000 tab prosecuting Ogden for exercising his Free Speech rights, more than it spent prosecuting any other lawyer practicing law in this state in recent years. The Indiana Supreme Court ordered Ogden to pay half of those expenses despite being exonerated of 80% of the charges leveled against him. It amounted to a fine against Ogden that's one of the most onerous fines ever meted out by the Indiana Supreme Court for the transgressions of any attorney in this state's history:
When I protested earlier to the Indiana Supreme Court that the Disciplinary Commission deliberately ran up an expense bill on me to force me out of practicing law, I don't think the justices believed me.  So I decided to undergo the painstaking process of going through the docket of each disciplinary case over the last two years to determine how much in expenses each disciplined attorney was ordered to pay . . .
Upon completion of my survey, it turns out my instincts were right.  The Commission ran up more expenses prosecuting me for an email than any other attorney . . .
Nonetheless, the Indiana Supreme Court refused to reconsider the expense bill (and didn't require an itemization) leaving me with no choice but to walk away from practicing law.  On Wednesday I filed paperwork to put my license in "inactive" status.
So I, an attorney who had never been disciplined in my over 26 years of practicing law, lost my right to practice law in the State of Indiana because I sent a private email criticizing a judge in which I accidentally got a couple minor facts wrong.  (Never mind NY Times v. Sullivan which says my speech was protected by the First Amendment.)  My hope is that my case FINALLY causes the Indiana Supreme Court to take some responsibility for the too often outrageous conduct of the Disciplinary Commission, which is an arm of the Court, and adopt long needed reforms in how the Commission operates, including more transparency and accountability.  Indiana attorneys and the public deserve better.
Seriously, Paul Ogden received a larger fine than criminal defendants whose actions result in the death of other people in this state receive. This same Disciplinary Commission refused to do anything to a prominent criminal defense attorney who facilitated the payment of a bribe by her client's father to a prosecutor so her client could be sprung from prison early from her sentence for hiring a hit man to murder her husband. The Disciplinary Commission ignored pleas by former legal associates of a prominent attorney who was stealing millions from his client's funds for years before it was too late to help the victims. Hell, the Indiana Supreme Court  has even allowed people who've driven drunk and killed other persons to practice law and become judges in this state. Yet Paul Ogden is the greater threat to the general public because he spoke his mind in a private e-mail about the actions of a neglectful judge. Then they wonder why people have so little respect for the legal system. Welcome to Nazi Germany.


Anonymous said...

Its a shocking abuse of their power. I just can't believe a great man like Paul Ogden, an honest man, has been forced from the practice of law for calling a lazy judge lazy or some such nonsense. Its a terrible commentary on the state of "justice" here in Indiana, which has a terrible reputation for bad judges and crooked lawyers. Now we can add this vicious retribution to the list of simply awful decisions coming out of Indiana. I'm really sorry about this result. I hope some journalist with integrity will take it upon himself to write a national piece using this inequity as an example of what we put up with in Indiana from our State Bar. Self-dealing attorneys and judges, bought and paid for, vindictive tools for the insurance industry and anyone with money and power. Leaves little room for a public servant like Paul Ogden. Lawyers across the State ought to feel ashamed.

Anonymous said...

This horrible outcome against Paul Ogden is wrong on the many levels enumerated by Advance Indiana. Sadly, this is yet another example of Hoosier "business as usual" in a State whose agencies are often populated by small-minded, power hungry nothings who can use the system against those they want out of the circle.

How the priggish, eternally nose-scrunched smug-looking Michael Witte can peacefully sleep at nights is beyond my comprehension. No one more deserves to be forced out of the legal profession than Mr. Witte himself whose personal agendas could come to harm yet another honest, sincere, judicially learned human being like Mr. Ogden.

Mr. Witte appears to possess absolutely none of the above qualities which accurately describe a man of integrity like Mr. Ogden.

People like Witte and his accomplices against Truth may be snickering in the background but Lady Justice shares not their self-congratulatory and underserved joy regarding what they consider their "success".

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:34 NALIS IT: "A shocking abuse of their power" and "Lawyers across the State ought to feel ashamed." Agreed!

Count me as another Hoosier who has completely lost any shred of respect for "the law" in The State of Indiana.

Anonymous said...

The type of America operating in Indiana and other soldier-loving, authority-loving states cannot credibly be called a free country.

This type of America is an ascendant police state, well on the road to being very similar to the Soviet Union or perhaps East Germany.

In this America, you don't speak up; you don't demand your rights; you don't criticize the government; you don't vote, and you don't hold any opinion that the government hasn't officially sanctioned. FoxNews and MSNBC represent your range of political choices.

Many aggressive attorneys outright avoid practicing criminal law, because they know that the criminal courts do not like aggressive and confrontational opponents. A defense attorney is merely supposed to manage a conviction and sentence by counseling the client to accept the proffered plea.

An aggressive criminal defense attorney already has one foot in jail and a disbarment proceeding.

This is not a free country, and the Ogden case sends a clear message to every other attorney in the state.

When you rise for the National Anthem, you rise to salute every cop that kills a citizen, and you rise to cheer Ogden's removal from his career. Remove your support from this country by refusing to participate in its state rituals. When you see the flag, start seeing the thing that lets a cop kill you on the thinnest of justifications, for which he’ll be given a promotion and a lifetime pension. When you salute the troops, you support the muscle for every evil thing the country does.

Wouldn’t this land be better off with several new, smaller, countries, instead of this mammoth and tyrannical USA?

Anonymous said...

At the end of it, was Ogden correct that the judge was lazy?

Was Ogden run out of the legal business for making a true statement?

Every law student, regardless of year, needs to be read the case of Ogden and be given an option of getting out of law school with absolutely no money owed.

Practicing law seems like a horrible way to make a living.

Anonymous said...

Legally speaking, I'm not sure that placing Ogden's license in "Inactive" shields him from his requirement to pay.

The State will simply mark him as "Suspended" if it doesn't receive the fees in a timely manner.

"Inactive" merely means that Ogden won't have to take CLE or maintain a client trust account. He won't be outside the jurisdiction of the Court, nor will he be exempt from annual fees.

"Inactive" means you are free to return to the practice of law at your leisure upon completion of a few administrative matters. Ogden isn't so free, and I doubt the Court will let him slide out the back door with any of his reputation intact.

They will probably let him select Inactive status only upon the payment of the fine or participating in a payment plan for the fine.

I would be surprised if this is the last of Ogden's troubles.

Anonymous said...

There are far many attorneys guilty of so much more, criminal acts as well. Pay pal, fund raise, ACLU.
Go after those that are being protected by the pay to pay groups, judges, officers and more. Don't quit. Boone County would be a good place to start alphabetically.

Anonymous said...

i'm finding myself more and more agreeing with the poster who asks why anyone would want to be an attorney in this state. we have .gov, make-busy jerk offs ruining peoples' careers; I personally know of more than one case they've prosecuted and been embarrassed on in their loss, funny how the public never hears about those. witte and his merry band of do gooders are ruining careers with impunity. I never thought I'd agree with michelle o'bola on anything but I too am ashamed of my country; more specifically, ashamed of the .gov in this state; oh well, I'm sure it'll get better; hey, how about the colts!!!

Anonymous said...

Loud and clear, the State of Indiana informs the Union (and the entire world) that free speech is not allowed in the Hoosier heartland. Freeway signs posted at state line entry points should read "Welcome to Indiana. Set your watch back 50 years." and "Welcome To Indiana; Where Tyranny Is Promulgated By Small Minded, Vindictive Hacks" (like Witte).

If I were an attorney in this State my head would be hung low in despair and shame.

Mr. Pence, this is your State... where citizens lose freedom for doing the right thing.

To all graduating and soon to graduate collegiate... think long and hard about remaining in a State run by backward hicks... who happen to have high places and JD's. Leave for greener pastures while you can.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the solution is to get out of Indiana, but what state isn't as Nazi as this one?

All of America seems pretty bad.

Further, were all the Nazis as bad as American government employees? It's hard to imagine worse than some of our thugs.

Anonymous said...

Rodney Paul Sniadecki (see yesterday's advance sheets for his criminal case) second disciplinary case took a 4 days trial (which was longer than his criminal case jury trial). It was held in Plymouth (30 miles south oof South Bend), and the disciplinary hearing judge assigned to the case
travelled from Southeastern Indiana to the hearing site.
for the trial.

Sniadecki's case had to cost a bundle.

Anonymous said...

Many of us are more afraid of Indiana judicial and local government corruption than ISIS or Ebola.

Anonymous said...

Pence? I have no repect for that man, but my finger is pointing more firmly at the person who appointed the majority of the judges(although ALL justices concurred): Mitch "the you-know-what" Daniels.

At this point, I am starting to hope the federal government declares Indiana a mob-controlled state and takes over.

Let the tea partiers, doomsday preppers, and other various forms of states rights paranoids take couldn't be worse in my estimation.

Anonymous said...

I'm very soory to hear this news. I've heard that the judge referenced in this piece, David Coleman of the Hendrick Superior Court, is corrupt, not to mention an egotist. Apparently, he uses intimidation tactics to bully clients, attorneys, and the local political establishment. People are scared of him. That's sad. Talk about a Nazi.

Pete Boggs said...

While this is bad news, it calls for an American response- like Paul Ogden writing an expose, a book. A sunshine expose would be a worthwhile read...