FOR THE RESPONDENT FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT
James Voyles Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
One Virginia Ave. Seth T. Pruden, Staff Attorney
Indianapolis, IN 46204 115 East Washington St., Ste. 1060
Indianapolis, IN 46204
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
IN THE MATTER OF )
) Case No. 12S00-9810-DI-615
PAUL D. EDMISTON
May 25, 2000
The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission charged the respondent, Paul D. Edmiston, with
Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys at Law for committing a
criminal act, public indecency, which reflects adversely on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness, or
fitness as a lawyer in other respects. Our jurisdiction in this case
is derived from the respondents admission to the bar of this state on
October 10, 1973. The Disciplinary Commission and the respondent have entered into
a Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline, which we accept.
This opinion sets forth the facts and circumstances of this case.
The respondent and the Commission agree that, during relevant times, the respondent was
serving as the chief deputy prosecutor for Clinton County, Indiana. On June
23, 1998, the respondent was found guilty in the Marion Superior Court of
three counts of public indecency, each a class A misdemeanor. These convictions stemmed
from the respondents conduct on three separate occasions in 1996, when witnesses observed
the respondent with his penis exposed, masturbating in an Indianapolis office building while
following female office workers. The respondent was sentenced to a one
year suspended sentence on each of the three counts and was placed on
probation for a period of two years.
The respondent was serving as the chief deputy prosecuting attorney of Clinton County
when he committed his criminal acts. Further, we cannot overlook that the
respondent was previously accused, arrested, and charged with conduct nearly identical in nature
to that which he was convicted in this case. Although acquitted in
the earlier case after a court trial, the fact that he had been
accused and charged of that conduct clearly had little deterrent effect on the
respondent when he engaged in the conduct for which he was charged in
1998. We are also mindful of the serial nature of the respondents
criminal acts. For these reasons, we find that the respondents commission
of the crime of public indecency reflects adversely on his trustworthiness and fitness
as a lawyer in violation of Ind.Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b).
We now turn to assessment of the sanction to which the parties have
agreed, that being a suspension from the practice of law for two years.
That the respondent was serving as the chief deputy prosecuting attorney aggravates
his misconduct. We also note that the respondents criminal actions cannot be
attributed to ignorance of the law or an instantaneous lapse of judgment.
Instead, three times the respondent purposefully engaged in criminal conduct for his own
selfish gratification. We therefore ascribe a high degree of culpability to his
Similar acts by lawyers have resulted in harsh sanction. For example, this Court
suspended for one year a lawyer who masturbated in the presence of female
clients and his babysitter.
Matter of Weir, 668 N.E. 2d 679
(Ind. 1996). A lawyer who engaged in non-consensual touching of young
males, including his clients, was suspended for not less than three years.
Matter of Wells, 572 N.E. 2d 1290 (Ind. 1991). We
accept the present conditional agreements provision calling for a two year suspension.
It is, therefore, ordered that the respondent be suspended for a period of
not fewer than two (2) years, beginning July 3, 2000. At
such time as the respondent completes this term of suspension, he may seek
reinstatement to the bar of this State, provided he satisfies the requirements set
forth in Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule
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.