Legal Issues and Attorneys and Indiana Supreme Court and Law

Attorney disbarred for writing book about client

July 17, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court has ordered a Carmel attorney disbarred after finding he wrote a book revealing sensitive information about a former client for his monetary gain.

The justices released the 7-page opinion Wednesday, outlining the misconduct committed by Joseph Stork Smith that warrants his disbarment, effective Aug. 28.

In 2010, Smith authored a book purporting to be a true autobiographical account of his 20-year relationship with a former client who was active in politics and at one point held a high-level job in the federal government. The two had a sexual relationship for some time during this period. He apparently wrote the book to try to recoup some of the money he claimed she owed in legal fees.

“In the book, Respondent revealed personal and sensitive information about [the former client] that was obtained in confidence as her attorney, and its revelation had the potential of causing her public embarrassment and other injury, such as impairment of her employment opportunities," the court said in its opinion. "Respondent's selfish motivation in deliberately attempting to reveal this confidential information to a wide audience for monetary gain, his false statements in the book and in this disciplinary matter, and his lack of any remorse lead us to conclude that that disbarment is appropriate for Respondent's misconduct.”

Smith was admitted to the bar in 1976 and prior to the action was in good standing, according to the Roll of Attorneys.

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