- Lawyers are completely free to criticize the
decisions of judges. As licensed professionals, they are not free to make
recklessly false claims about a judge's integrity.
- The limits on professional speech by attorneys
are not coextensive with the limits of the First Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States. The First Amendment protects the societal interest of
enabling robust public discourse on issues of public concern, and its
protections are therefore necessarily very broad. However, this interest must
be balanced against the societal interest in the public's confidence in an
impartial adjudicatory process, which unwarranted public accusations by an
attorney against a judicial officer do nothing but weaken and erode.
- Attorneys are expected to exercise reasonable
objectivity in their statements about judicial officers. We expect those who
have been granted the special privilege of admission to the bar to bring
reasonable objectivity to their statements about judicial officers; to rise
above the raw emotions and accusations that impede rather than enhance the
judicial process. This, we note, also has the incidental benefit of fostering
effective advocacy for their clients.
- In determining whether an attorney violated the rule of professional conduct prohibiting knowingly false statements, or statements made with reckless disregard to falsity, concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office, a court must determine whether the attorney lacked any objectively reasonable basis for making the statement at issue, considering its nature and the context in which the statement was made The extent to which the attorney discloses accurate facts to support the statement is relevant to the determination of whether the attorney acted in reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity.
I’m not going to apologize for getting Judge Coleman off the case. The man should be turned in to the disciplinary commission for how he handled this case. If this man had been in Marion County, with a real probate judge, the stuff that went on with this case . . .
No, Mary, what the “huge joke” is how a court allowed an estate worth millions of dollars to be opened as an unsupervised estate with an executor who wasn’t to inherit from the residue of the estate. Randy Carr was exactly correct to question whether the judge had a conflict. He should be brought up on disciplinary charges for how he handled this case.
It’s not exactly surprising that after five years Robert P. Carr’s estate is found to have gone from several hundred thousands of dollars (which was a gross underestimate) to nothing. Crown Plaza is part of the estate.
There’s no “witch hunt.” Just a desire that the estate be handled honestly and fairly, which it hasn’t been. Unfortunately the time I got on the case, there was hardly anything left. The judge is the one who should get the lion share of the blame.
If there were no shenanigans going on, then why oppose an outside accounting?
York's order states that the disciplinary standards for Ogden's violation "minimally provide for a public reprimand for Respondent's conduct," absent aggravating and mitigating factors. York found that despite having no previous disciplinary record Ogden had aggravated the circumstances of his case by "his multiple attacks on Judge Coleman and the personal representative, Robert, for which he remains unrepentant; his disrespectful letter to Judge Coleman; his ex parte communication with Judge McCarty, asserting he had a right to do so; and, his behavior during the disciplinary process." The ex parte communication involved a letter Ogden sent to all civil court judges in Marion County, as well as the county prosecutor and the state's attorney general pointing out a recent ruling in a Supreme Court case involving civil forfeitures providing that forfeited sums are to be paid into the common school fund. York acknowledged that Ogden had no civil forfeiture case pending before the courts but should have known that a member of the law firm where he worked had a pending case. Ogden had not copied the other parties on the letter he sent and did not believe the rules required him to do so since the manner in which funds are allocated once a forfeiture action is ordered is of no consequence to them. Nonetheless, York concluded his communication violated the rule against ex parte communications, although he recommended a sanction limited to a public reprimand for the violation.
York found no mitigating factors to support a lesser sanction other than his lack of prior disciplinary actions. York said he "struggled with determining Respondent's motive to act" in considering whether there was an absence of a dishonest or selfish motive." "Concluding that none of his misconduct would benefit Respondent’s client, Randy, or his future clients appearing before Judge Coleman, the only reasonable explanation is that Respondent was acting in what he perceives as his own personal interests," York wrote. "In short, Respondent believes he is a warrior tasked with righting wrongs within the legal system, and asserts without reasonable foundation that the Complaint is an attempt to stifle such activities," York concluded. "While Respondent’s goals may be admirable, there are reasonable alternatives available to him other than to conduct his mission activities in violation of the disciplinary rules," he added. York chastised Ogden for refusing to "recognize his wrongful conduct" or to "make good effort to rectify the consequences of his misconduct." York described Ogden's behavior during the disciplinary action as "obstreperous." York found that "other than his own self-serving statements" there was "no evidence" presented in mitigation based on his character or reputation.
Please click here to view a PDF copy of the order.
UPDATE: The Indiana Lawyer's Dave Stafford has posted a story on York's recommended sanctions against Ogden here.