Thursday, December 9, 2010

Indiana attorneys should not beat people up.

One might think that one of the benefits of going to law school would be that law students learn the law and are thus able to avoid breaking it. Not everyone takes full advantage of that benefit. Take, for example, this former Kokomo, Indiana city attorney.

According to Indianapolis TV station WISH, Indiana attorney, Olubunmi Okanlami, has been charged with battery for beating her boyfriend. Ms. Okanlami, whose boyfriend apparently lives with her, beat her boyfriend so badly that “clumps of his hair and scalp” were torn from his head. These clumps were observed by police when they took her into custody. Ms. Okanlami’s boyfriend escaped by locking himself in a bedroom.

Once arrested, things got worse for Ms. Okanlami. When officers began processing her, they discovered that Ms. Okanlami was wearing two bras. As far as I know, wearing two bras does not violate any laws in Indiana. However, keeping a switchblade concealed between the bras will get one in trouble. Ms. Okanlami was, of course, carrying a switchblade in between the bras. Apparently unhappy that the knife was found, Ms. Okanlami struck a deputy in the face and clawed the deputy’s left eye. Battery on a corrections officer is a felony in Indiana.

As I read these events I wondered, as I am sure you did as well, “if convicted, has she violated the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct”? Rule 8.4(b) states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” While the Rule doesn't mention violent crimes, one might hope that that domestic violence and battery on a corrections officer would apply. Comment 2 to Rule 8.4 indicates that they do. The comment says that offenses “involving violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or a serious interference with the administration of justice” indicate a “lack of those characteristics relevant to the practice of law.”

Is there a lesson here? The lessons seem to be that it was a bad idea to beat your significant other or police officers. I would like to believe that most people learn those lessons without the benefit of law school.


  1. The story was interesting, but what a boring way to analyze it. You honestly went and opened your rulebook after this?

  2. Technically, I looked at the rule online. I'm sorry the post bored you but since the WISH story said what the criminal penalties might be, I was curious as to what, if any, were the possible professional consequences.

  3. Here at the Gillette-Torvik Blog we aren't so concerned about what will get us jailed -- been there, done that. What concerns us is losing our license to practice law. So, long-story-short, today I took off my second bra for good.


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