In Indiana, part-time senior judge and defense attorney Lisa Traylor-Wolff is facing disciplinary action for allegedly engaging in sex with a client in a prison interview room.
The charges say Traylor-Wolff was appointed on September 6, 2011 to be the public defender for a 26-year-old accused of burglary, robbery, and felony confinement, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. It is alleged the two developed a romantic relationship in May 2012.
The 52-year-old is suspected of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a 26-year-old client she represented even after he was sentenced to prison for 30 years. Traylor-Wolff was still representing the young man in a process of appeal.
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has ruled Traylor-Wolff comported herself unprofessionally when meeting with the young man in an attorney-client meeting room at the Miami Correctional Facility in Peru, Indiana. She has been formally accused of violating several rules of professional conduct. These rules restrict a lawyer from having a sexual relationship with a client. Traylor-Wolff’s behavior undermines the integrity and impartiality the legal profession ideally aims to represent.
Traylor-Wolff is a senior judge in two northern Indiana counties but has not requested a 2013 renewal. Formerly, she served as a Superior Court judge in Pulaski County.
If found guilty of misconduct, Traylor-Wolff could be stripped of her legal credentials and subsequently barred from holding judicial office in the state for life by the State Bar Association. Traylor-Wolff can contest the charges if the investigation proceeds to the Indiana Supreme Court.
The American Bar Association (ABA), the largest professional association for attorneys, governs the Practice of Law through its establishment of rules of conduct. Behavior by an attorney that conflicts with established rules of professional conduct is punishable by disciplinary measures.
The ABA recognizes sexual relations between attorneys and their clients as a significant ethical problem. The act may involve unfair exploitation of the lawyer’s fiduciary position and presents a significant danger that the lawyer’s ability to represent the client adequately may be impaired. As a consequence, the lawyer may violate both the Model Rules and the Model Code.
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