Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts of Interest, Indiana Edition — Criminal Matters, Business Matters, Political Matters

Southern Indiana attorney reprimanded for representing opposing parties in criminal matter” —

  • “Carla Ginn, a solo practitioner in Scottsburg, has been publicly reprimanded for violating the prohibitions against conflict of interest by simultaneously representing a father, the alleged perpetrator, and his son, the alleged victim.”
  • “According to the disciplinary complaint, Ginn had been dating the father for about four months in 2018 when she began acting as co-counsel on his older son’s case related to three criminal matters… In January 2020, the father was arrested and charged with 13 felony counts after getting into an altercation with the older son Ginn was representing and a younger son. Although the older son was listed a victim, Ginn appeared with the father at his arraignment and subsequently entered a formal appearance on the father’s behalf.”
  • “After the father was order not to have unauthorized contact with his sons, Ginn continued to simultaneously represent the father and older son. She received discovery, including the recorded statements of the older son and his brother in the father’s criminal matter.”
  • “Also, in February 2020, she entered her formal appearance in the older son’s previous criminal cases and moved to alter the terms of his probation so he could work part time for his father. The trial court denied the request.”

A personal conflict of interest drew an agreed public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court” —

  • “Respondent represented a businessman (‘Seller’) who was negotiating to sell his company to a ‘Buyer.'”
  • “Prior to Respondent’s representation, the parties had entered into an exclusivity agreement that limited Seller’s ability to negotiate with others for 150 days. Seller ultimately rejected Buyer’s final offer, and the sale did not go through.”
  • “Respondent entered his last billing entry in the matter on November 25, 2015. On November 27, 2015, Respondent, on behalf of a company he owned, sent a proposed purchase agreement to Seller. Although Seller was aware of Respondent’s affiliation with his company, Respondent did not advise Seller in writing that he was no longer Seller’s counsel and was not representing Seller in the proposed purchase agreement, nor did Respondent obtain Seller’s informed consent in writing. On November 30, Seller sought legal advice from Respondent regarding release from his exclusivity agreement with Buyer, which Respondent provided despite being materially limited by his own personal interest. Respondent and Seller consummated their agreement on December 4, 2015.”

Commentary: Todd Rokita’s odd compulsion” —

  • “When he was a small boy, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita must have been the kind of kid who had to touch a hot stove multiple times before he figured out it burned. Time and age haven’t taught him much.”
  • “The Indiana Supreme Court just rejected—for the second time—Rokita’s attempt to keep a lawsuit filed by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb from moving forward. Holcomb sued the Indiana General Assembly for overriding his veto of a bill that violates the Indiana constitution by granting lawmakers the power to call the legislature back into session. The constitution clearly says only the governor may call the legislature into session.”
  • “He [Rokita] argued, nonsensically, that the governor couldn’t hire outside counsel without his permission. That he could represent both parties in the dispute. That he also could assume the court’s role and serve as arbiter.”
  • “From the trial court to the state’s highest court, judges and justices haven’t said that Rokita’s arguments were misguided, mistaken or even just plain wrong. They have said that the arguments were absurd.”
  • “At different times, Indiana’s attorney general has represented the governor and the state legislature when each has been sued. When the two branches of government fall into a constitutional dispute, the notion that the attorney general doesn’t have a conflict of interest is…well, absurd. As a matter of principle, Rokita should have sat this one out.”
  • “When Rokita’s feckless determination to insert himself into the battle between governor and legislature popped up, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records on the number of times the attorney general’s office has paid for outside legal counsel in recent years… Between 2015 and now, the state of Indiana has hired outside counsel at least 45 different times. Each time, the attorney general has approved the hiring.”