Legal Ethics

Public defender's text to prostitute on phone in police possession leads to suspension

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An Indiana public defender whose troubles began when he texted a prostitute’s cellphone while it was in police possession has been suspended from law practice for a year, without automatic reinstatement.

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Christopher Hollander in a March 24 opinion noted by the Legal Profession Blog. Hollander had worked as a public defender in Marion County until he was fired in January 2013, the Indianapolis Star says in its report on the sanction. He was also charged with soliciting a prostitute in a criminal case and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in August, the Star says.

According to the Indiana Supreme Court, Hollander had seen an online ad for escort services by “H.S.,” which used a fake name and listed a phone number. When Hollander saw a police report with the same phone number, he was able to identify the woman.

Hollander texted H.S. in November 2012, without realizing that the phone was in the possession of the Indianapolis police. An officer impersonating the woman responded. Hollander said he could help H.S. with her situation and would “work with her” regarding attorney fees, according to stipulated facts cited by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Hollander set up an appointment to meet the person he believed to be H.S., and went to a hotel to meet her in December 2012. When Hollander arrived, he tried to hug and kiss an officer impersonating H.S., and made statements conveying that he wanted sex in exchange for legal services, according to the stipulated facts.

In mitigation, Hollander had no prior discipline, and he is receiving psychological therapy and treatment, the opinion said.

Hollander didn’t respond to the ABA Journal’s phone message requesting comment.

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