FOR THE RESPONDENT FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT
Thomas Anthony Durkin Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary 53 West Jackson Blvd. 115 West Washington Street, Ste. 1060 Chicago, IL 60604 Indianapolis, IN 46204
IN THE MATTER OF ) ) Case No. 45S00-9701-DI-006 LLOYD B. FISHER )______________________________________________________________
The respondent, Lloyd B. Fisher, and the Disciplinary Commission have submitted
for our approval a Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline
wherein they agree that the respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for
Attorneys at Law by virtue of his federal criminal convictions of money laundering. In final
resolution of this action, we accept the tendered agreement and impose sanction in
accordance therewith. The facts and circumstances of this case are more fully set forth
The respondent was admitted to the bar of this state in 1974 and, during all relevant times, was engaged in the practice of law in Gary, Indiana. This Court suspended him
pendente lite on February 17, 1997, based on his criminal conviction. The parties agree that
on November 2, 1994, the respondent was charged by indictment in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, with one count of conspiracy
to engage in money laundering,See footnote
one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property
derived from unlawful activity,See footnote
and three counts of laundering monetary instruments.See footnote
November 8, 1995, after trial by jury, the respondent was found guilty of all counts.See footnote
December 11, 1996, the Honorable James T. Moody, Judge of the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Indiana, entered a judgment of conviction against the
respondent of all charges, each a felony. The respondent was sentenced to an 18-month term
of imprisonment on each of the five counts, the sentences to run concurrently. After release,
the respondent was placed on supervised release for two years.
We now find that the respondent violated Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b) by engaging in criminal acts which reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness
as a lawyer.
In the parties' agreement, it is stipulated that a suspension from the practice of law for a period of three years and six months is appropriate in this instance.See footnote 5 After that period, in the event the respondent desires to seek reinstatement to the bar, the parties further stipulate that he be required to petition for reinstatement. Standing alone, with no factors in mitigation, we would be more inclined to conclude that the severity of the respondent's actions and the criminal scienter underlying them call for permanent disbarment from the practice of law. However, our attention is directed to the federal sentencing memorandum of Judge Moody. It indicates that the federal court heard testimony of 14 witnesses relative to its decision to depart from the federal sentencing guidelines applicable to the respondent's criminal acts. The court found that the respondent's case "[fell] squarely within the Guidelines' policy statement on diminished capacity." Specifically, Judge Moody found that the record contained an undisputed, expert opinion that the respondent was suffering from clinical mental disorders (i.e., depression) at the time of his crimes, which significantly reduced his ability to reason and make sound judgments. The respondent's diminished mental state had its genesis in the death of his son and other personal tragedies soon before he committed the criminal acts.
The circumstances recounted in the sentencing memorandum are compelling and they,
along with our interest in fostering agreed resolution of attorney disciplinary cases, persuade
us to accept the proffered sanction, that being a three and one-half year suspension from the
practice of law, instead of permanent disbarment. We note, however, that the severity of the
respondent's acts place on him a very strong implication of unfitness and a correspondingly
great burden of proof to demonstrate subsequent fitness sufficient for reinstatement, should
he ever choose to seek it. See In re Gutman, 599 N.E.2d 604, 608 (Ind. 1992). Given the
severity of the misconduct and our willingness to impose a suspension instead of disbarment,
we conclude further that the suggestion that the period of suspension be retroactive to the
date of the respondent's pendente lite suspension should be rejected.
It is, therefore, ordered that the respondent, Lloyd B. Fisher, is suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years and six (6) months, effective immediately. At the conclusion of that period, he may petition this Court for reinstatement to the practice of law, provided he can satisfy the requirements of Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule 23(4) and pays the costs of this proceeding.
The Clerk of this Court is directed to provide notice of this order in accordance with Admis.Disc.R. 23(3)(d) and to provide the clerk of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the clerk of each of the Federal District Courts in this state, and the clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court in this state with the last known address of respondent as reflected in the records of the Clerk.
Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan, Selby and Boehm, JJ., concur.
Dickson, J., dissents, believing disbarment is warranted.
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