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Fort Wayne attorney disbarred for mismanaging client funds

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 08, 2017 10:01 am
A Fort Wayne attorney has been disbarred by the Indiana Supreme Court for mismanaging his client trust accounts and for converting those funds, it was announced Tuesday. Donald Edward James, who previously was suspended in January for failing to respond to an order related to two discliplinary cases in 2015 and 2016, was disbarred by Indiana's highest court in a four-page per curiam opinion.

The court wrote: "During 2015 Respondent significantly overdrew his attorney trust account on three occasions, regularly commingled personal funds with client funds, made unauthorized cash and check withdrawals from the trust account for his own personal purposes, and failed to maintain adequate trust account records."

The court also wrote James "invaded client funds, which resulted in the overdrafts," and failed to cooperate with the Indiana Supreme Court Disiciplinary Commission's investigation as well as the disciplinary proceedings.

Attorneys are required to place a client's retainer fee in a separate trust account to pay for the client's expenses, which are managed normally by the law firm's accountant.

The commission first filed a disciplinary complaint against him in July 2016, stemming from his conduct in 2015 — the basis for the court's decision on Tuesday.

The commission asserted James failed to cooperate with the investigation and did not participate in any of the disciplinary proceedings. 

Tuesday's order takes effect immediately, disbarring James from practicing law in Indiana.

The cost of the proceeding was assessed against James.


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