Court suspends ex-bar association treasurer’s license

Keywords Law / Legal Issues

The former treasurer for the Marion County Bar Association has been suspended from the practice of law for a minimum of two years for taking more than $9,100 from the organization.

Trezanay Atkins admitted to converting the proceeds of more than 50 checks drawn on the association’s bank account, according to the disciplinary order issued by the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday.

Atkins served from June 2011 until December 2012 as the treasurer of the local bar that in large part assists in the development of African-American and minority lawyers in Indianapolis. She voluntarily disclosed her conversion to MCBA officers, but justices gave little weight to the confession, noting that hearing officer Helen W. Marchal concluded Atkins confessed because her misappropriations were on the verge of being discovered.

The court ruled Atkins violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness; and 8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Atkins made restitution to the MCBA, but the court did not find this a mitigating factor.

“Respondent’s deliberate theft from an association she served as treasurer in violation of her fiduciary duty is among the most serious types of misconduct,” justices concluded in a unanimous opinion. “The Court concludes that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for a period of not less than two years, without automatic reinstatement,” effective Nov. 3.

Earlier this year, Atkins told The Indiana Lawyer she was resigned to the likelihood she would lose her license. She testified in a disciplinary hearing that she was in financial distress when she took money from the bar association, and she said she was shutting down her law practice and launching  a public relations company called Ignis Strategic Communications.

Costs of the disciplinary proceeding are assessed against Atkins.

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