Attorney for the Respondent
Attorney for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Dennis McKinney, Staff Attorney
Indiana Supreme Court
In The Matter Of
the Contempt of the
Supreme Court of Indiana
Travis Raymond Fox,
Contempt of Court
October 9, 2003
The Disciplinary Commission alleged that attorney Travis Raymond Fox continued to represent criminal
defendants after being suspended from the practice of law for failing to pay
his attorney registration and education fees. Respondent Fox and the Commission have
tendered for our approval an agreed resolution of this matter, which we accept
today, thereby finding the respondent to be in contempt of this Court.
On April 23, 2003, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a Verified
Information and Motion for Order to Show Cause Why Respondent Should Not Be
Held In Contempt of Court. Pursuant to that motion, this Court issued
an Order to Show Cause on May 23, 2003, therein directing the respondent
to show cause in writing within twenty (20) days of service of the
order why he should not be found in contempt of this Court.
On June 20, 2003, this Court granted the respondents request for an extension
of time to respond to this Courts show cause order. On June
26, 2003, the parties notified this Court that they were negotiating an agreed
resolution of the Commissions allegations of contempt. The parties thereafter submitted
their proposed agreed resolution to this Court for approval.
The respondent was admitted to the bar of this state in 1998.
The parties agree that for the year 2001-02, the respondent failed to pay
his annual attorney registration and education fees, or to file an exemption affidavit.
See Ind.Admission and Discipline Rule 23(21) (establishing $90 annual registration fee for
attorneys); Admis.Disc.R. 29(7) (establishing $15 annual education fee for attorneys). This Court
issued an order on April 15, 2002 suspending the respondent from the practice
of law for his failure to pay the fees, effective 11:59 pm on
May 12, 2002. See Admis.Disc.R. 23(21)(e) (providing that failure to pay the
registration fee shall subject the attorney to an order of suspension from the
practice of law in this state). The respondent does not dispute
that he twice received notice that the fees were delinquent prior to the
order of suspension.
At all times relevant to this proceeding, the respondent was employed by the
Marion County Public Defender Agency as a conflict attorney in major felony court.
In that position, the respondent represented more than 15 criminal defendants in
Marion County courts after the effective date of his suspension and prior to
his reinstatement to the bar on November 19, 2002. For example, in
August 2002, the respondent appeared at a sentencing hearing in the Marion Superior
Court on behalf of a criminal defendant.
On November 18, 2002, the Commission notified the respondent that it intended to
file contempt charges against him for his practicing law while he was suspended.
The next day, the respondent paid his delinquent registration and education fees
and was reinstated to the bar.
An attorney who fails to pay a registration fee shall be subject to
an order of suspension from the practice of law in this state and
shall be subject to sanctions for contempt of this Court in the event
he thereafter engages in the practice of law in this state. Admis.Disc.R. 23(21)(e).
See also Matter of Crumpacker, 431 N.E.2d 91, 97 (Ind. 1982); Matter
of Baars, 683 N.E.2d 555 (Ind. 1997) (willful and intentional disobedience of the
orders of a court can constitute indirect criminal contempt). We
find the respondent guilty of indirect criminal contempt of this Court by practicing
law after being suspended from the bar for failure to pay his attorney
registration and education fees.
This Court has inherent and statutory authority to punish contempt by fine and
imprisonment. Id., I.C. 33-2-1-4.
In aggravation of the respondents misconduct, the respondent and the Commission agree that
the respondent was also suspended from April 17 through May 7, 2001 for
his failure timely to pay his annual registration and education fee for the
In mitigation, the parties agree that the respondent has never been disciplined by
this Court for a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, that he
was cooperative with the Commission throughout these proceedings, and that he is a
young lawyer who does not have the financial ability to pay a substantial
fine. In light of these considerations, they agree that the appropriate sanction
is a fine of $500. In addition, the respondent has offered to
perform 30 hours of pro bono service through the Heartland Pro Bono Council
within six months of entry of this order.
In prior proceedings, this Court has imposed much larger fines or even terms
of incarceration where attorneys were found to be in contempt for practicing law
while suspended. See, e.g., Matter of Baars, 683 N.E.2d 555 (Ind. 1997)
(attorney found to be in contempt for practicing law after being suspended for
attorney misconduct; ordered incarcerated for 30 days and fined $200); Matter of Lowry,
49S00-0105-CO-244 (Ind. 2001), (attorney fined $2,500 for continuing to practice law after suspension
for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements). In the absence of
significant extenuating factors or other special circumstances, that level of discipline is generally
appropriate where a suspended attorney practices law in defiance of an order of
this Court. In this case, we are willing to accept the parties
tendered agreement in light of the recitation that the respondent is not able
to pay a larger fine, the mitigating factors presented, and the fact that
the respondent will provide pro bono service to needy clients to atone for
It is, therefore, ordered that the respondent, Travis Raymond Fox, is hereby ordered
to pay to the Clerk of this Court, on or before November 14,
2003, $500 (five hundred dollars) for his contempt of this Court. The
respondent is also directed to pay the costs of this proceeding.
All Justices concur.