Pharos-Tribune

April 10, 2013

Senior judge banned, practice suspended

by Caitlin Huston
Pharos-Tribune

— Senior Judge Lisa Traylor-Wolff, who is also a public defender in Cass County, was permanently banned from judicial service Tuesday and suspended from the practice of law for at least 45 days.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on formal charges filed against Traylor-Wolff after she reportedly had a romantic relationship with a client while he was in prison. In addition to the permanent ban and suspension, effective immediately, Traylor-Wolff was ordered to undergo two years of probation, including treatment with the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.

Traylor-Wolff was formally charged on Feb. 25 for engaging in kissing and excessive fondling with a client in a visitation room at Miami Correctional Facility in Peru between May and June of 2012. The defendant’s case number in the formal charges leads to Scott Wampler, a 26-year-old man Monticello man, who Traylor-Wolff had represented as a public defender in an August 2011 burglary and criminal confinement case.

Traylor-Wolff and her attorney James Bell reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Supreme Court, rather than facing a public hearing on the charges. In their submitted agreement, they agreed to two of the charges and said Traylor-Wolff had taken part in an “improper romantic relationship” with her client and that had violated rules of judicial and professional conduct.

The Indiana Supreme court dismissed the first charge against Traylor-Wolff, which stated that she violated professional conduct by “engaging in sexual relations with her client.”

Contacted Tuesdcay, Traylor-Wolff referred all questions to her attorney, who could not be reached for comment.

“He’s making all comments for me,” Traylor-Wolff said.

Sheryl Pherson and Bob Murray, who oversee public defenders in Cass County, could not be reached for comment.

During her two-year probation period, Traylor-Wolff will be required to undergo treatment determined by the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, which offers helps to lawyers or members of the bar on issues that may impair “individuals’ ability to practice in a competent and professional manner,” according to its website.

She is also ordered to have no contact with Wampler, and has to pay the costs of the proceeding. She cannot violate the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct while on probation, according to the order.

If Traylor-Wolff complies with the probation, her law license will be reinstated after 45 days. If she does not successfully complete her probation, the order states that she can be suspended from practicing law for the remainder of one year.

Traylor-Wolff runs an independent practice as one of the county’s public defenders and leases space out of the Leeman Law Office.

Kelly Leeman, who heads the practice for that office, could not be reached for comment.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition