Discipline: Non-legal professional completely enjoined from giving authorized solutions

An Indianapolis non-attorney who drafted a petition for put up-conviction reduction and sentence modification for an inmate has been completely enjoined from featuring or providing authorized advice and services.

On March 4, Indiana Attorney Common Todd Rokita filed a “Verified Petition to Enjoin the Unauthorized Practice of Law” towards Eric Smith pursuant to Indiana Admission and Self-discipline Rule 24.

Justices in the Thursday buy of Condition of Indiana ex rel. Theodore E. Rokita v. Eric Smith, 22S-MS-83, granted the petition and forever enjoined Smith from featuring or giving legal assistance or authorized services to other folks unless or right until he obtains a license to practice regulation in Indiana.

The petition alleges that Smith, who is not a licensed lawyer, engaged in the unauthorized observe of regulation in the Hoosier Point out by presenting and furnishing legal guidance with out legal professional supervision to Indiana residents through “Self Support Legal Help Organization, LLC,” a firm he owns and operates.

Between other issues, Smith was allegedly hired to aid “Fisher,” an incarcerated specific, and drafted a petition for post-conviction reduction and a sentence modification motion for the inmate.

In accordance to the order, the PCR petition Smith drafted bundled authorized argument, and the sentence modification movement indicated that Smith experienced attempted to talk with the prosecutor with regards to a modification.

Smith allegedly indicated in a independent e mail that he would surface as Fisher’s “legal assistant” at any hearing on the sentence modification movement. Nevertheless, Fisher did not file possibly the PCR petition or modification motion drafted by Smith.

Justices have been prompted to take the confirmed allegations as true for the reason that Smith’s March 14 confirmed return did not “specifically deny or admit each and every allegation of fact” in the petition.

“Smith argues more broadly that his perform is permissible under our guidelines governing the use of paralegals. But Guideline 9.1 calls for a non-lawyer assistant to perform providers ‘only underneath the direct supervision of a attorney[.],’” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in the Thursday order.

“Smith does not claim to have been acting under the supervision of a law firm relatively, he appears to argue that his actions have been licensed for the reason that pro se litigants ‘act[ ] as their personal lawyer.’ Self-illustration allows an unique to converse on his or her own lawful behalf, but it does not make that individual a lawyer, and certainly not a lawyer licensed to specifically supervise Smith’s carry out.”

“Smith also argues that his conduct happened in 2019, exterior of any statute of limits,” the order ongoing. “But Rule 24 has no limitations interval and in any occasion, Smith’s Return admits the Petition’s averment that ‘as of the day of filing, Smith proceeds to present authorized companies to persons in trade for payment.’ Smith also summarily asserts that pro se litigants have a constitutional ideal to be assisted by a paralegal, but he delivers no cogent argument in guidance.”

The restriction doesn’t preclude Smith from becoming used by, or independently contracting with, a attorney or legislation agency as a non-attorney assistant. The only caveat is that whilst accomplishing so, he abides by the terms of this everlasting injunction and does not contravene the Indiana Guidelines of Specialist Carry out or Guideline 9 for the Use of Non-Attorney Assistants.