Attorney for the Respondent
Walter E. Bravard
N. Sean Harshey
Attorneys for the Indiana Supreme Court
Donald R. Lundberg, Executive Secretary
Dennis K. McKinney, Staff Attorney
Indiana Supreme Court
In The Matter Of
Alexandra J. Caputi Respondent.
November 17, 2003
The Disciplinary Commission charged the respondent, Alexandra J. Caputi, with failure to act
with reasonable diligence in handling a clients case and failing to keep her
client adequately informed about the case. Today, we find that her conduct
violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys at Law and under the
circumstances warrants a suspension from the practice of law for six months without
This action commenced when the Disciplinary Commission filed a Verified Complaint for Disciplinary
Action on January 16, 2003, pursuant to Ind. Admission and Discipline Rule 23(12).
As provided by Admis.Disc.R. 23(11)(b), this Court appointed a hearing officer to
hear this matter, who has tendered to this Court his findings and conclusions
following evidentiary hearing. That report is now before us for final resolution.
Neither party has petitioned for review as provided by Admis.Disc.R. 23(15).
Where neither party petitions for review of the hearing officers findings, we adopt
the hearing officers factual findings while reserving final judgment as to misconduct and
sanction. Matter of Campbell, 702 N.E.2d 692 (Ind. 1988). Preliminarily, we
note that the respondents admission to this states bar in 1977 confers us
with disciplinary jurisdiction.
We now find that a client hired the respondent to file a petition
seeking to emancipate the clients daughter. However, seven months after the client
hired the respondent the petition still had not been filed. During this
period, the respondent did not return the clients numerous telephone calls seeking information
about the status of the case. The client ultimately hired another attorney
who found that the clients ex-wife had no objection to the emancipation and
who thereafter completed the matter.
By this conduct, we find the respondent violated Ind. Professional Conduct Rule 1.3,
which provides that lawyers must act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing
a client, and Prof.Cond.R. 1.4(a), which requires lawyers to keep clients reasonably informed
about the status of a matter.
Having found misconduct, we must now assess an appropriate sanction. In so
doing, we examine any aggravating factors, several of which are present in this
case. The hearing officers report notes four instances where he concluded that
the respondent testified falsely during the hearing of this matter. Specifically, the
hearing officer found that the respondent testified falsely when she (1) denied her
client provided her with the clients ex-wifes address; (2) stated she could not
file the emancipation petition because she did not have the clients daughters address;
(3) claimed she left messages for the client on his home answering machine
and had been unable to reach the client or leave a message on
his cell phone; and (4) denied failing to return the clients telephone inquiries
about the case.
Additional aggravation of the respondents misconduct lies in the fact that this is
not the first time she has been disciplined for neglecting client matters or
knowingly making false statements in connection with a disciplinary matter. This Court
suspended the respondent for 90 days in 1997 pursuant to a six-count complaint
charging her with failing to act with reasonable diligence, failing to keep clients
informed, and knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with
a disciplinary matter. Matter of Caputi, 676 N.E.2d 1058 (Ind. 1997).
Our decision in that case stated:
Absent an agreement, the respondents misconduct would have incurred a lengthier period of
suspension. Any other acts of professional misconduct by this respondent will not be
Caputi, 676 N.E.2d at 1062.
In light of the aggravating circumstances, we conclude that the respondents conduct here
warrants more severe sanction than that previously imposed.
It is, therefore, ordered that the respondent, Alexandra J. Caputi, is hereby suspended
from the practice of law for a period of not less than six
(6) months, effective December 31, 2003, at the conclusion of which the respondent
may petition this Court for reinstatement to the practice of law.
The Clerk of this Court is directed to provide notice of this order
in accordance with Admis.Disc.R. 23(3)(d), to the hearing officer, and to 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 of this state.
Costs of this proceeding are assessed against the respondent.
The respondent did file an untimely pleading seeking to introduce evidence in