Improper Disposal of Confidential Client Records Earns Lawyer (Only?) a Public Reprimand

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Here’s a follow-up on a breach involving paper records, but I don’t think I  ever knew of this breach at the time it occurred, although it reminds me of a similar breach where a psychologist’s adult children did something similar.

Leigh Jones reports:

An Indiana adoption lawyer whose client files were scattered in the wind after his adult children left boxes of them beside a recycling bin has received a public reprimand.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Sept. 30 issued the reprimand against Steven Litz, whose Monrovia, Ind., practice focuses on adoption and criminal law.


Litz directed his two children to take about 14 boxes of client files he wanted to discard to a local recycling bin, according to the decision. Finding that the bins were full, they left the boxes on the ground beside the bins and did not tell Litz. The wind later blew the tops off the boxes and sent some of the papers flying into public view. After someone notified Litz of the situation, he and his children retrieved the documents.


The court found that Litz had violated the Indiana Professional Conduct Rules that prohibit attorneys from revealing information related to current and former clients without consent. In determining the appropriate discipline, the court noted that no client information appeared to have been lost or disclosed and that Litz had a history of pro bono service. It also noted that Litz cooperated with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission in the matter.


Does a public reprimand seem like the appropriate outcome to you?  It seems like he didn’t violate any  law, which may be the bigger issue.

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