Blogging lawyer gets 30-day suspension for criticizing judge for 'malfeasance'

Recommended for a one-year law license suspension for criticizing a judge, an Indiana lawyer known for his political blog was pleased to hear this week that the state’s top court had suspended him for only 30 days.

“I won on 80 percent of it, so I’m 80 percent happy,” Ogden told the Indianapolis Star on Wednesday, referring to four legal ethics counts that the Indiana Supreme Court dismissed. “I really appreciate the work the supreme court did in keeping an open mind.”

The court agreed (PDF) with its disciplinary commission that Ogden had violated legal ethics rules through what the court described as “repeated and virulent accusations” that a Hendricks County judge had “committed malfeasance” while administering an estate in which Ogden represented a party.

In fact, the court said, Ogden’s allegations “were not just false; they were impossible” because a different judge at the time was presiding in the estate matter, as Ogden should have been able to determine, the newspaper recounts.

On the other counts, the court said Ogden’s criticism of the judge, although incorrect, was made in good faith and largely a matter of opinion.

It also found that Ogden had done nothing wrong by writing an open letter to all Marion County judges about asset-forfeiture law. The letter was not an ex parte communication, the court said, and no allegation was made that it misstated the law concerning forfeitures.

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