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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. The court noted that it was the third time Litz had received a public reprimand. 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. Litz did not return telephone calls seeking comment. The court found that even if the documents had been placed into the bins, client confidentiality could have been breached. “[T]he information would’ve been available for opportunists to retrieve, with potentially devastating consequences to the clients,” the court wrote. “Shredding client files an attorney no longer needs prior to disposal is one alternative for providing far safer protection of client information.” 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. In 2008, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a public reprimand against Litz for directly communicating with another lawyer’s client. In 1999, the court reprimanded him for writing a letter to local newspapers about his client’s innocence during a retrial. The court in that case found that his conduct violated Indiana’s ethics rules forbidding attorneys from making extrajudicial statements that may prejudice a court proceeding. Litz handles surrogacy and adoption cases, in addition to drunk driving and general criminal matters.

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