Legal Ethics

Indiana lawyer is disbarred for revealing client information in autobiography


An Indiana lawyer who wrote an autobiography purporting to be the true story of his sexual relationship with a former client has been disbarred for his disclosures.

The Indiana Supreme Court disbarred Carmel lawyer Joseph Stork Smith in an opinion (PDF) issued Wednesday, the Indianapolis Star reports. The court said Smith’s motivation in writing the book was partly to recover legal fees and other money owed to him by the former client, referred to as “FC” in the opinion.

The court said Smith improperly revealed details of divorce and criminal cases against the client, who at one point held a high-level job in the federal government.

Smith claimed FC consented to the disclosure of client confidences when he said he might write a book about her and she responded, “That is a great idea! Write a book and make me famous!” The court concluded that the statement did not amount to informed consent.

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