Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Indiana Supreme Court opinion suspending an assistant public defender for one year for, inter alia, sending a text to a person who he believed was a prostitute to a cell telephone in police cust
ody and soliciting that person for prostitution, and then meeting an undercover police officer at a hotel to solicit sex from her. The opinion is In the Matter of: Christopher A. Hollander, No. 49S00-1402-DI-118 (Ind. SC March 24, 2015) and the link to the disciplinary opinion is here: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/03241501per.pdf
According to the opinion, “H.S., using a fictitious name, had placed an online classified advertisement for escort services that listed her cell phone number. At some point, H.S. was arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) for engaging in prostitution. Respondent had seen and remembered H.S.’s classified advertisement, and when Respondent came across a police report containing the same phone number, he was able to determine specific arrest information regarding H.S. and thereafter identify her.”
The lawyer, who was an assistant public defender, texted that telephone number in November 2012 believing that the text was going to H.S.; however, the telephone was actually in the possession of the Indianapolis police and an officer impersonating the woman responded to the text. The lawyer told the officer impersonating H.S. that he could help her with her situation and that he would “work with her” with regard to the attorney fees. The lawyer set up a time to meet the undercover office who he believed to be H.S. and went to a hotel to meet her in December 2012. When the lawyer arrived at the hotel, he tried to hug and kiss the officer impersonating H.S. and made statements indicating that he wanted sex with her in exchange for legal services.
The lawyer and the Indiana Bar stipulated to the facts and to a one year suspension. In mitigation, “(1) Respondent has no prior discipline; (2) following his arrest, Respondent sought help from the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (“JLAP”), he has been under a JLAP monitoring agreement, and he has been receiving psychological therapy and treatment; (3) Respondent was candid with police immediately following his arrest; and (4) Respondent has expressed remorse for his behavior.
The Indiana Supreme Court accepted the stipulation and suspended the lawyer for a minimum of one year with the requirement that he petition for reinstatement at the end of the suspension period and meet the requirements for reinstatement, which include satisfying “the burden of demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence remorse for his misconduct, a proper understanding of the standards imposed upon members of the bar.”
Bottom line: This case involves lawyer who apparently abused his position as an assistant public defender to obtain information on an alleged prostitute for purposes of solicitation and then actually solicited an undercover police officer for prostitution at a hotel. The lawyer had no previous discipline, was fully cooperative, and is receiving psychological therapy and treatment; however, he received a one year rehabilitative suspension for the misconduct. I am not sure what might be more embarrassing for a lawyer than this type of misconduct and discipline.
Be careful out there (and please don’t do this).
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670