I’m going to let Mr. Rocchio, who’s had a little unfairly bad press lately, even in the blawgosphere where people should know better, speak for himself:
I am the subject of the article. This article is grossly inaccurate. However, most of the inaccuracies arise from the misinformation included in the Indiana Supreme Court’s opinion. I have had an Indiana license since 1972, but have rarely used it because I have been a full time attorney in Michigan since 1976. My Indiana license has been inactive since 1987 with two brief exceptions, in 2005 and more recently being in 2008 when I assisted an attorney in Indiana on an “of counsel” basis who was confronted by an unexpected severe staff shortage and I assisted him for 5 plus months while he reestablished equilibrium in his practice. During that time I sent a person a letter to encourage her to speak to an attorney, and receive information about her legal rights. It was not a solicitation letter but if it was, the only violation was my failure to deface it by including the notation that it was advertising material, filing a copy with the Disciplinary Commission, and making a $50 contribution to its Christmas party fund. In Michigan, none of that nonsense would be required of me. I did not propose to visit her in the hospital, her home, or any such inappropriate contact. She did not respond and I never heard from her. A person whose relationship, if any, to the addressee filed a simple grievance inquiry asking whether the letter was “legal.” It was and is “legal.” However, due to his grievance I was accused of misconduct to which I respectfully agreed to accept a private or public admonition or reprimand for my failure to include the advertising material notation, file a copy of the letter, and send a check with it for $50. The Disciplinary Commission took no action for 13 months and then notified me that I was being investigated for further misconduct for a one sentence factually correct statement solely related to my law practice in Michigan (I have not practiced law in any manner in Indiana since June, 2008)on my ten page website. Visit my website and see if you perceive me to be a personal injury lawyer overstepping the rules of professional responsibility who poses a menace to the citizens of Indiana. For what reason was a staff member of the Disciplinary Commission exploring my website, an attorney without an office in Indiana, and whose Indiana license was (and is) inactive? What next? Interview my neighbors? Arrange a private investigator to track my activities and whereabouts? No grievance or complaint was filed by any person with regards to my website. I was accused of the “unauthorized practice of law” which according to the applicable rule is limited to a person impersonating an attorney, i.e., a person acting as an attorney who has not been admitted to the bar. Since I was admitted in 1972 to the Indiana bar, it seems absurd to allege that I have violated a rule the violation of which requires the perpetrator to be a person who has not been admitted to the bar. A Verified Complaint was filed that included added charges with regards to which no advance notice and opportunity to respond, as required, was given to me. The whole process was a joke, and the Indiana Supreme Court decision, which may have been written by a staff attorney at the Disciplinary Commission according to both its tone and comment, is an exclamation point on the waywardness of the entire process. Among my peers, and judges who are familiar with me, I am noted for my exemplary sense of courtesy, politeness, integrity and adherence to the highest ethical standards. The Court’s opinion paints me as a lunatic. The Disciplinary Commission never interviewed one person who is familiar with me, and grossly deviated from the ABA standards in determining what discipline to impose. There is much more to this story. I am not the one with the attitude problem. The “attitude” is located at the Disciplinary Commission office.
This quote is from a comment Mr. Rocchio posted in the “Legal Profession Blog“, which reported on the Indiana Supreme Court decision “disciplining” our hero in a post by law professor Michael Frisch who, somewhat to his credit, doesn’t offer much of an opinion about it all. If he was going to offer one it should only be critical of the court, not the heroic attorney. But we don’t expect any balls from law professors now, do we?
I just want to say a couple of things here, and I’m mad, so maybe it won’t come out right but I’m inspired by Rochhio’s courage so I’m going to take that chance.
First, anyone who graduated from Notre Dame Law School, served in the Navy JAG Corps for a few years (not like being a line officer, but better than never having served in the military at all) and survived in private practice since about 1976 – and this is what Mr. Rocchio has done, if his self description is to be believed, which I don’t doubt that it should be – and apparently in all that time since his JAG days has not attached his lips to any public tit paycheck to subsidize his living at taxpayer expense, should be off limits to any weasly fuckwad at some disciplinary “committee”, and likewise off limits to any suck-up hearing officer looking for a more regular public tit paying gig.
And that goes for any self-important state Supreme Court Judge who is known, by virtue of the position he occupies alone, to have sold his soul to power long ago as well.
None of you has any standing to sit in ethical judgment of your ethical betters, and Mr. Rocchio falls firmly in that category.
Maybe the lawyers in Indiana, or Michigan, or both – the real lawyers – should stand up for Mr. Rocchio – and Heather McClure O’Farrell, too (H/T John at People v. State) and strike for a day or something. I’m still here to assist.
Remember you heard it here first. Today it’s Rocchio and O’Farrell. Tomorrow it will be you. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous or picky or even egregiously wrong: they don’t have anything better to do, and the only lawyers they can actually accuse are the independent ones who largely represent individuals – the ones who are, by definition, the most ethically superior lawyers. We have arrived at the Orwellian moment where only the most ethical lawyers will be found unethical.
This will just get worse and worse until somebody hits back. And nobody else will. So to my colleagues in Michigan and Indiana – think about it.