FOR THE RESPONDENT FOR THE SUPREME COURT
Gene E. Conn, pro se Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
115 West Washington Street, Suite 1060
Indianapolis, IN 46204
IN THE MATTER OF )
) Case No. 43S00-9709-DI-479
GENE E. CONN )
practice of law for a minimum of two years for engaging in this professional misconduct.See footnote
The undisputed facts show that, in 1994, the respondent downloaded from the Internet sexually explicit images of children. At the time, he was a student at the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington. On April 27, 1995, he initiated his effort to become a licensed attorney in Indiana by submitting his sworn Application for Admission Upon Examination to Practice Law to the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners. On his bar application, the respondent was directed to respond to the following two items:
19. In addition to the convictions set forth in 18 above, I
have been accused of the following violations of law: Note:
(a.) Set out date, city and state, name of person who made the
accusation against you, the law enforcement agency involved,
if any, and any disposition. (b.) Give specific details of the
accusation and a full description of the incident. (c.) Attach
copies of all documents relating to the charges and disposition
thereof, including police reports, charges, indictments, dispositions,
orders, and court records.
20. Within the meaning of the term good moral character
and fitness to practice law as set out and defined in Rule 13
IV (A) of the Rules of Admission to the Bar of Indiana (which
I have read and understand), since I became 18 years of age
the only incidents in which I have been involved where there was
any challenge to my honesty and integrity are as follows: Note:
` (a.) Set out brief description of each incident, include the date, city
and state, other persons involved, and how the matter was resolved.
(b.) Attach copies of all documents relating to the incident.
Included in the respondent's bar application was an Agreement, Release and Authorization
signed by the respondent. It stated, I fully understand and agree that this Application is a
continuing application and agree that if any matter contained herein shall be changed by any
event or incident I will immediately notify the Board of Law Examiners of such change.
In September 1995, Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed the respondent regarding his involvement in receiving and transmitting child pornography over the Internet. As a result of that interview, the respondent knew or reasonably should have known that he was the subject of a criminal investigation regarding child pornography. The respondent did not update his bar application to note this investigation, although he had a duty to do so. The respondent was admitted to practice law in the State of Indiana on October 23, 1995.
In April 1996, the respondent was charged in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with one count of Sexual Exploitation of Minors in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 2252. He pleaded guilty on April 25, 1996, and was sentenced on August 21, 1997, to fifteen months in prison and two years of supervised release. On the basis of that conviction, this Court suspended the respondent on October 21, 1997, pending conclusion of this disciplinary proceeding.
We find that the respondent violated Ind. Professional Conduct Rule 8.1(a) and (b) by failing to correct his bar application to reflect that he was under federal investigation with
reference to child pornography.See footnote
We further find that the respondent, by conveying and
receiving child pornography in violation of federal law, violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(b) by
committing a criminal act that reflected adversely on his trustworthiness and fitness as a
Now that we have found misconduct, we must determine an appropriate sanction. The respondent and the Commission suggest a two-year suspension from the practice of law, commencing on October 28, 1998, the date of the submission of the original conditional
In assessing a sanction, we examine the nature of the misconduct, the duty
violated, the state of mind of the respondent, the actual or potential injury caused by the
respondent, the potential risk to the public in allowing the respondent to continue in practice,
the duty of this Court to preserve the integrity of the profession, and factors in aggravation
and mitigation. Matter of Lucas, 672 N.E.2d 934 (Ind. 1996).
The respondent's misconduct
could warrant a more severe sanction. We have disbarred an attorney whose falsification of
a bar application was detected after his admission to the practice of law in this state. See, e.g.,
Matter of Verma, 691 N.E.2d 1211 (Ind. 1998). If the respondent had disclosed the federal
investigation in his child pornography activities to the Board of Law Examiners as required,
whether he would have passed the character and fitness review required of all candidates for
bar admission is unclear. Absent substantial mitigating circumstances or policy
considerations, we would not be inclined to favor a sanction which allows the respondent to
retain a law license which he might not have obtained absent concealment of previous
misconduct. As we noted in Matter of Charos, 585 N.E.2d 1334, 1335 (Ind. 1992), a case
which also involved deceit in the bar application process:
At his very first encounter with a situation calling for
sound professional ethics, this Respondent embarked on a
path of deception. The very nature of this violation indicates
a serious lack of candor which reflects negatively on a
lawyer's integrity and professional status.
An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection
with a bar admission application or in connection with a disciplinary
matter, shall not:
(a) knowingly make a false statement of material fact; or
(b) fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension
known by the person to have arisen in the matter, or knowingly
fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an
admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this Rule
does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected
by Rule 1.6.
Although the respondent's illegal conduct occurred before he became a lawyer, the respondent and the Commission stipulate that this Court has jurisdiction over the 8.4(b) violation by virtue of its inherent constitutional authority over the discipline and disbarment of those admitted to practice law in this state. See IND. CONST., art. VII, section 4. In addition, the criminal act on which this disciplinary matter is based resulted in a conviction after the respondent became an Indiana attorney.
Converted from WP6.1 by the Access Indiana Information Network