Sunday, April 14, 2013

In re Tsoutsouris case brief

In re Tsoutsouris case brief summary
748 N.E.2d 856 (Ind. 2001)

The respondent, attorney, filed a petition for review of an attorney discipline hearing officer's report challenging the hearing officer's findings and recommendation as to sanction.

OVERVIEW: Attorney engaged in a sexual relationship with his client while he was representing her in a dissolution matter. He claimed the relationship was not improper and argued that even if it were, it merited only a private reprimand. The attorney contended his consensual sexual relationship with his client during his representation of her did not violate the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct. He based that argument on the lack of evidence establishing that his sexual relationship with the client impaired his ability to represent the client effectively.

Can an attorney have a sexual relation with a client while representing that client?

No.  The supreme court held that the respondent violated Ind. R. Prof. Conduct 1.7(b) and prejudiced the administration of justice in violation of Ind. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4(d).

The Court then determined an appropriate sanction. In doing so, it considered the misconduct, the attorney's state of mind underlying the misconduct, the duty of the court to preserve the integrity of the profession, the risk to the public in allowing the respondent to continue in practice. Given these factors, a 30-day suspension from the practice of law was warranted.

OUTCOME: The recommendations of the hearing officer were adopted.

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