|Executive Secretary Michael Witte|
One would think Witte would have been chastised by the Supreme Court opinion in my case rejecting almost the entire Disciplinary Commission's prosecution of me. Not so. The Commission is doubling down on its retaliatory efforts Apparently the very Disciplinary Commission attorney who prosecuted me and badly lost, who was also the interim Executive Secretary of the Commission between Donald Lundberg's tenure and Michael Witte, is personally conducting an investigation of the new grievance.
One of the biggest complaints from Indiana attorneys is that they can't speak out about the disciplinary process because they might face retaliation from the Indiana Disciplinary Commission. Indeed when I first wrote about the Commission in January 2011, and its targeting of small firm and sole practitioners almost exclusively, I immediately appeared on the radar of Executive Secretary Michael Witte who within a matter of months began filing grievances against me.
The Executive Secretary has almost absolute power when it comes to dragging attorneys into the disciplinary process. Even if the Commission loses, the attorney's career is often irreparably damaged and the attorney forced into paying tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and expenses Thus, the Executive Secretary needs to be someone with good temperament and who is above using his or her position to retaliate against critics and those who best the Commission before the Supreme Court.
People should reminded that this is not the first time Witte appears to have used his official position to seek retaliation against people who oppose him. Witte began his career at the Disciplinary Commission with a grievance filed against him alleging he had abused his position as county attorney to settle political scores. Republicans in Dearborn County had backed a different candidate in the primary against Witte, who was then Dearborn County Superior Court Judge. Witte then became county attorney and used his position to ask that a couple Dearborn County politicians, who had supported his opponent in the primary, be prosecuted for Hatch Act violations. The feds rejected Witte's efforts, deciding there were no Hatch Act violations in Dearborn County. No word on what happened to the disciplinary grievance filed against Witte but you can bet with Witte assuming the helm it went nowhere.
It's time that the Indiana Supreme Court remove Witte from his position and appoint a new Executive Secretary who has a better temperament and who will refocus the efforts of the Commission on going after unethical attorneys whose conduct endangers the public.