Indiana lawyer disbarred for, inter alia, “profoundly disturbing” harassment, “repugnant pattern of behavior and utter lack of remorse”

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Indiana Supreme Court opinion which disbarred a lawyer for a “repugnant pattern of behavior and utter lack of remorse”, deceitful responses and lack of candor, neglect involving an appeal, unwillingness to appreciate the wrongfulness of his misconduct, and propensity to shift blame to others and see himself as the victim.  The case is In the Matter of R. Mark Keaton, No. 02S00-1302-DI-95 (April 21, 2015).  The link to the opinion is here:

According to the opinion, the lawyer, who was married at the time, began a romantic relationship with his daughter’s roommate.  The roommate ended the “tempestuous long-distance relationship” in March 2008 and “from March 2008 through April 2010, at least 7,199 emails were exchanged between The lawyer and the roommate), the vast majority sent by (the lawyer). Both (the lawyer’s) oral and written communications to (the roommate) were threatening, abusive, and highly manipulative in nature.”

The lawyer also left “profoundly disturbing” voice mails on the roommate’s telephone and the opinion gave an example of one of the them: “(Shouting) Call me the f— back! I don’t know who the f— you think you are.  But I’ll tell you what, you better f—ing call me f—ing back now!  You f— with me one more time and this time you’ll really f—ing pay for it!  And you need to think about it! Now you f—ing quit f—ing with me!”

The lawyer also threatened suicide and carried through on his threat to post nude photos of the roommate, by sending them to others in e-mails, posting them on adult websites, and posting them on his own blog, along with “disparaging diatribes” about her.  According to the opinion, the lawyer still refuses to take down his blog.  The lawyer also filed three lawsuits against the roommate and others and “made duplicitous statements to the (disciplinary commission) in reference to those related proceedings.”

The lawyer argued that his contact with the roommate was mutual and consensual.  He further argued that she had a form of mental illness and her requests for him to stop contacting her actually indicated her desire to submit to him.  He also argued that his actions did not constitute stalking or harassment.

The opinion states that this “outrageous behavior falls woefully short” of the ethics requirements that lawyers be of good moral character and fitness. “Put simply, (the lawyer) engaged in-and continues to engage in-a scorched earth campaign of revenge in the wake of being dumped by (the roommate) seven years ago”. “Most disturbingly, despite the entreaties of (the roommate) and several others, (the lawyer) simply has refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.”  The Court disbarred the lawyer effective immediately since the lawyer was already suspended and imposed costs.

Bottom line:  This case involves some very disturbing conduct by a lawyer who apparently went off the deep end and engaged in outrageous conduct when an individual with whom he was having a relationship (his daughter’s former roommate no less) broke it off.  This case is disturbing on multiple levels, including the apparent complete lack of recognition by the lawyer that his conduct was outrageous and unethical and arguing that it was not stalking or harassment.

Be careful out there (and of course don’t do this).

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

About jcorsmeier

Joseph A. Corsmeier is an “AV” rated attorney practicing in Clearwater, Florida. He concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of defense of attorney disciplinary matters before The Florida Bar, attorney admission matters before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and professional license and disciplinary matters before the Boards of the State of Florida. He provides expert analysis and opinion on conflict of interest and other attorney disqualification and legal malpractice issues and he testified as an expert in the Florida courts. He served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1986 to 1990 where he prosecuted felonies exclusively from June 1987, and as Bar Counsel for The Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation from 1990 to 1998. He also practices in the areas of estate planning and Medicaid qualification, workers’ compensation, and labor law. Mr. Corsmeier is the author of numerous articles for various bar publications, has spoken at numerous local and statewide seminars on various topics, including ethics and professionalism, and was an instructor of legal ethics for paralegals at Rollins College until the Tampa campus closed. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his J.D. from Mercer University. He is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the Middle District of Florida. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Bar Associations.
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