The Respondent, attorney Allen Stout, was representing the defendant to an action brought by an unrepresented woman who filed a Motion for Protective Order, claiming that she had been the victim of the defendant’s harassment. During a deposition of the unrepresented petitioner that was attended by a court reporter and others in the respondent’s firm, the attorney confronted her with several 8×10 color copies of intimate photos she had sent the man during their relationship, prior to the events giving rise to the protective order petition, displaying them face-up on the table for all to see. Respondent asked the petitioner, “why do women who seek the aid of the court send these kinds of pictures to men?” Respondent then asked her if she still intended to pursue a protective order or whether there would be a “better way” to handle things than for her to be “drug through” and “exposed in” the court. When the petitioner responded she just wanted the man to stop harassing her, Respondent ended the deposition and told the petitioner “the court reporter will transcribe this to final form, submit it to the court, it then becomes a public record. There’s a way to stop that, but otherwise with the matter still pending we’ll have to submit it to the court and attend a hearing, which will be a very public hearing as well.” The petitioner then indicated she wanted to dismiss the case, Respondent instructed the court reporter to go off the record, and Respondent instructed the petitioner how to file for dismissal, which she did immediately after leaving the deposition. Respondent later bragged to an associate about having secured a dismissal by threatening to have the photographs become part of the record.
Suspending the attorney for 90 days, the Court found that he had violated Rule 4.1(a)(knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a third person in the course of representing a client), Rule 4.4(a)(a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person), Rule 8.4(b)(committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects), Rule 8.4(c)(conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and Rule 8.4(d)(conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
Matter of Stout, 179 N.E.3d 465 (Ind. 2022).