FOR THE RESPONDENT
FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPINARY COMMISSION
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Greg Anderson, Staff Attorney
115 West Washington Street, Suite 1165
Indianapolis, IN 46204
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
IN THE MATTER OF )
) CASE NO. 49S00-9912-DI-700
GEORGE J. LUDDINGTON )
February 23, 2001
Due to his conviction of the crime of conversion and his repeated failure
to respond to the Disciplinary Commissions demands for response to grievances filed against
him, Respondent George J. Luddington will be suspended from the practice of law
for at least nine months.
This case commenced with the Commissions filing of a two-count verified complaint for
disciplinary action, the first count concerned with the respondents conviction of conversion of
state property, the second regarding his failure to respond to the Commissions demands
for information. This Court appointed a hearing officer who has conducted evidentiary
hearing and who, based upon that hearing, has provided to us his findings
of fact and conclusions of law. The hearing officer found misconduct as
charged in the verified complaint.
This matter is now before us for
Under Count I, we now find that the respondent was employed as a
field examiner with the Indiana State Board of Accounts (the Board) beginning in
about October 1997. On October 7, 1998, he was terminated from that
employment for being absent from work for a period of two or three
days. At the time the respondent was fired, Board officials asked him
to make arrangements to return to the Board all of the property belonging
to the Board that was in his possession, including a computer and supplies.
On October 13, 1998, the respondent tendered a resignation to the Board, at
which time he was again instructed to return to the Board its property
by October 22, 1998. At that time, it was determined that
the respondent possessed a notebook computer, computer supplies and disks, a calculator, manuals,
and general office supplies. October 22, 1998 passed without the return of
the items to the Board. On November 10, 1998, the Board
contacted the Indiana State Police to ask an officer to assist the Board
in retrieving the items. On November 16, 1998, an Indiana State Police
officer and an agent of the Board visited the respondent at his residence
and demanded that he return the computer and office equipment. The respondent
refused to return the items that day, instead advising them that he would
bring the items to the Boards office the following day. The
respondent failed to return the items the next day. He was charged
in Marion Superior Court with criminal conversion, a class A misdemeanor, on November
20, 1998, for exerting unauthorized control of the Boards property. He returned
the items to the Board the following day. On September 24,
1999, the respondent was convicted of criminal conversion.
On December 28, 1998, and again on May 3, 1999, the Commission demanded
a response within twenty days, pursuant to Admis.Disc.R. 23(10)(2),
to a grievance it
had filed against him. The respondent failed to comply with either demand.
Under Count II, we now find that on January 26, 2000, and again
on February 17, 2000, the Commission demanded from the respondent a response to
another grievance that had been submitted against him. The respondent failed to
respond to the Commissions demands.
Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b) provides that it is professional misconduct for a
lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty,
trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects. Offenses involving violence,
dishonesty, or breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice
indicate a lack of characteristics relevant to law practice.
Comment to Prof.Cond.R.
8.4. Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(c) provides that it is professional misconduct for
a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. The
crime of conversion is one involving dishonesty, and, accordingly, implicates ones fitness as
a lawyer. The respondents commission of the crime of conversion therefore violated
Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(b) and (c).
Professional Conduct Rule 8.1(b) provides that a lawyer shall not knowingly fail to
respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority. The
respondent four times failed to respond to the Commissions demands, made pursuant to
supreme court rule, for responses to grievances filed against him. Accordingly,
we find that he violated the rule.
In assessing proper sanction for the respondents misconduct, we note not only the
respondents criminal activity, but his consistent disregard for the authority of the Commission.
While the crime of conversion implicates his fitness as one who
can be trusted to fulfill the various duties the practice of law entails,
his lack of response to the Commission demonstrates directly his inability to satisfy
even rudimentary professional obligations. Accordingly, we conclude that a significant period
of suspension is warranted, with reinstatement conditioned upon his demonstration of fitness for
It is, therefore, ordered that the respondent, George J. Luddington, is hereby suspended
from the practice of law for a period of not fewer than nine
(9) months, beginning March 31, 2001, at the conclusion of which any reinstatement
must be conditioned upon successful petition before this Court pursuant to Admis.Disc.R. 23(4).
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.
Shepard, C.J., and Dickson, Sullivan, Boehm, JJ., concur.
Rucker, J., dissents on grounds that the sanction is too severe.
The verified complaint alleges violations of Ind.Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b), 8.4(c),
and 8.1(b), infra.
That rule provides, in relevant part:
If the Executive Secretary determines that [a grievance] does raise a substantial question
of misconduct, [the Executive Secretary shall] send a copy of the grievance by
certified mail to the attorney against whom the grievance is filed (hereinafter referred
to as "the respondent") and shall demand a written response. The respondent
shall respond within twenty (20) days, or within such additional time as the
Executive Secretary may allow, after the respondent receives a copy of the grievance.