FOR THE RESPONDENT
FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPINARY COMMISSION
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Dennis K. McKinney, Staff Attorney
115 West Washington Street, Suite 1060
Indianapolis, IN 46204
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
IN THE MATTER OF )
) CASE NO. 49S00-9606-DI-444
DEAN E. RICHARDS )
October 1, 2001
Today we find that attorney Dean E. Richards fabricated evidence and deceived tribunals
while representing various parties. Disciplinary charges predicated on these transgressions are
now before this Court for final resolution.
Specifically, this matter is before us upon the duly-appointed hearing officers findings of
fact and conclusions of law. Because neither the Commission nor the respondent
has petitioned this Court for review of the hearing officers report pursuant to
Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule 23(15), we accept the findings but reserve final judgment
as to misconduct and sanction. Matter of Grimm, 674 N.E.2d 551 (Ind.
1996). The respondent has been suspended from the practice of law
pendente lite since January 31, 2000, upon the Commissions Motion for Suspension Pending
Prosecution and the hearing officers finding thereon.
As to Count I, the parties stipulate and we so find that the
respondent represented a client in a variety of lawsuits stemming from the clients
involvement in the ownership of a motel. While representing his client in
one of the lawsuits, the respondent filed an affidavit in Madison Superior Court
II which provided that Mr. Cook sold his ½ interest in the hotel
to the respondents client, that his client now owned a ½ interest in
the hotel, and that Mr. Sourwine owned the other ½ interest. The
affidavit provided further that the Madison Superior Court II had already ruled that
the respondents client enjoyed ownership of the hotel per a judgment of the
court. In fact, the Madison Superior Court II had not determined that
the client purchased a ½ interest in the hotel. The respondent knew
the statements in the affidavit were false. The respondent reiterated the false statements
in arguments before the trial court. After the adverse party filed
a counterclaim against the respondents clients, the respondent filed a counter-complaint for racketeering
activities, but failed to consult with his client prior to filing the action.
The trial court granted the adverse partys motion for summary judgment, which
the respondent appealed, again without his clients knowledge or consent.
Professional Conduct Rule 3.1 states,
inter alia, that a lawyer shall not assert
an issue in a proceeding unless there is a basis for doing so
that is not frivolous. By submitting affidavits to the Madison Superior Court
II which contained assertions that the respondent knew to be false, he violated
the rule. Rule 3.3(a)(1), (2), and (4), respectively, provide that a
lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact to a
tribunal, fail to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary
to avoid assisting a fraudulent act against a tribunal by a client, or
offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. Rule 8.4(c) proscribes
lawyer conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. Rule 8.4(d) proscribes conduct that
is prejudicial to the administration of justice. His submission of the affidavits
violated these rules.
The hearing officer found no misconduct as to Count II dealing with the
handling of client funds, and we accept that conclusion.
Under Count III, the parties stipulate that the respondent represented plaintiffs in a
federal lawsuit. The defendants scheduled a deposition of one of the plaintiffs
on April 13, 1993, at 9:00 am in the offices of an Indianapolis
law firm. The respondents paralegal drove him to the site of the
deposition, dropped him off, and thereafter waited in the car. After the
respondent returned, they went to the federal district court office to see if
the deposition had been continued. The respondent later formally asked the district
court to award him attorney fees because he had shown up for the
deposition only to find the defendants attorneys not present. At hearing of
the attorney fee issue before a federal magistrate, the respondent testified that he
had not received notice that the defendants lawyers would be unable to attend
the deposition, and that he had appeared at the scheduled site of the
deposition at 9:30 am on April 13 prepared to proceed. In fact,
the defendants counsel had telephoned the respondents office on April 12, 1993, and
had advised that he would be unable to attend the deposition. Counsel
that day also sent a letter via facsimile transmission to the respondents office
confirming the depositions cancellation. Further, counsel and two receptionists testified that they were
at the office where the cancelled deposition was to have occurred during relevant
times and never observed the respondent arriving for the deposition. Despite those
facts, the respondent testified at the attorney fee hearing that he entered the
office and spoke with a receptionist, who told him the defendants attorneys were
By testifying falsely before a federal magistrate that he entered the office for
the deposition only to learn, for the first time, that the deposition was
cancelled, the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R. 3.3(a)(1) and Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(c). His actions were prejudicial
to the administration of justice in violation of Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(d).
Pursuant to Count IV, we find that, while representing the plaintiffs in a
lawsuit, the respondent offered into evidence a bank sale prospectus purportedly prepared by
a financial services company. In fact, the document had been manufactured by
the respondent and an employee under his direction one evening during the trial
in order to cure a problem with the testimony of one of the
witnesses in the case.
By submitting into evidence during trial the falsified document, the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R.
3.3(a)(1), (2), and (4). That action also violated Prof.Cond.R. 3.4(b), which provides
that a lawyer shall not falsify evidence. His actions involved dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, and misrepresentation in violation of Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(c), and were prejudicial to the
administration of justice in violation of Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(d).
Pursuant to Count V, we now find that the respondent, as co-counsel, represented
a client before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on an appeal of
an adverse ruling against the client. The court affirmed the lower district
courts decision and ordered the respondents client to show cause by July 28,
1995, why the opposing party should not be awarded attorneys fee and costs.
On July 28, 1995, a motion for extension of time was filed
on the clients behalf. The motion alleged that the respondent had been
ill for the past two weeks and [was] unable to complete the Rule
to Show Cause Response. Attached to the motion was a letter signed
by a physician confirming the illness. The physician was the respondents client
in another case. Billing statements reflected that the respondent had worked on
the physicians case an average of 11.79 hours per day during the ten
days prior to July 27, 1995. At hearing of this disciplinary matter,
the respondent denied signing both the motion and the letter.
The Seventh Circuit granted the request for extension, until August 11, 1995.
On August 17, an emergency motion for extension of time was filed on
clients behalf, asking for another extension until August 31, 1995, to respond.
Again, the court granted to motion, and ultimately a response was filed on
the clients behalf.
The respondent also represented another client in an appeal pending before the Indiana
Court of Appeals. On July 31, 1995, a motion for enlargement of
time to file a brief was filed on behalf of the client.
The respondent was the signatory on the motion, and attached to the motion
was the physicians letter attesting to the respondents illness. Also attached was
an affidavit, which stated in relevant part: Dean E. Richards has been
ill and has not been able to finish the Brief as shown in
the attached physicians statement. The court granted the motion, permitted an extension
until August 14, 1995. On August 22, a second motion for extension
was filed in behalf of the client, again with the respondent as its
signatory and with the physicians letter attached. An affidavit attached to that
request stated that Dean E. Richards was acutely ill for two weeks prior
to July 27, 1995. The court again granted the motion, giving the
respondent until August 29, 1995, to file the brief. On August 29,
1995, the respondent filed the brief.
On July 28, 1995, a letter was sent to the Disciplinary Commission requesting
an extension of time to respond to a disciplinary grievance. The reason for
the request was the respondents illness. The letter was printed on the
respondents legal stationary and was signed by the respondent. In fact, the
respondent was not ill as he had claimed in these various petitions and
By making false statements to tribunals about his health and ability to work
in order to obtain extensions of time, the respondent violated Prof.Cond.R. 3.3(a)(1), 8.4(c),
Having found misconduct, we now turn to the issue of appropriate sanction.
The hearing officer has recommended the respondents disbarment.
The accuracy of documents and instruments utilized before a tribunal in proceeding is
of utmost importance to the administration of justice, and fraudulent alteration of such
documents by officers of the court is therefore severe misconduct.
Siegel, 708 N.E.2d 869 (Ind. 1999). We agree with the hearing
officer that the respondents pattern of intentional deceit of tribunals warrants disbarment, noting
that this resolution is consistent with that imposed in similar cases of intentional
and repetitive deceit of legal authorities and institutions. See, e.g., Matter of
Moody, 428 N.E.2d 1257 (Ind. 1981) (disregard of, and disrespect toward, laws of
state, procedures of courts and officers of judiciary, leading to injury of clients
and creating impediment to administration of justice, warrants disbarment); Matter of McDaniel, 470
N.E.2d 1327 (Ind. 1984) (misrepresenting underlying circumstances of events being investigated by police
to police and continuing misrepresentations under oath before grand jury, soliciting personal retainer
fee, and deceiving Social Security Administration, banks, and Internal Revenue Service through a
"ghost employee" scheme warrants disbarment.)
It is, therefore, ordered that Dean E. Richards is hereby disbarred. The
Clerk of this Court is directed to strike his name from the Roll
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 United States District Courts in this state, and the clerks of the
United States Bankruptcy Courts in this state with the last known address of
respondent as reflected in the records of the Clerk.
Costs of this proceeding are assessed against the respondent.
Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule 23(11.1).