The name of former LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary has received considerable attention, all negative, from the CLB. On this sixth day of November, 2017 there came an end to Neary’s disciplinary case commenced December 17, 2015. He will be suspended beginning December 18, 2017 for four years without automatic reinstatement. It is likely that Mr. Neary will be suspended much longer than four years before having any real chance of reinstatement. He may never have any real chance of reinstatement. Mr. Neary’s punishment was inevitable and was delayed longer than it should have been.
Mr. Neary began getting appellate ink in Taylor v. State, 35 N.E.3d 287 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015), prior to the launch of the CLB (August 10, 2015) and its semi-regular Appellate Case Notes. Then there came in September of 2015 Larkin v. State (Larkin I), 43 N.E.2d 1281 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015). Taylor v. State, 49 N.E.3d 1016 (Ind. 2016) appeared again on Transfer. Then there was Larkin II in the COA 77 N.E.3d 237 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017) (trans. pending) in June of this year. The latter three of these Opinions were reviewed in the CLB.
In two separate homicide cases Robert Neary eavesdropped on supposedly “private” conversations between the suspect and his lawyer. In the Larkin case, the privileged attorney-client conversation was videotaped, transcribed, copied, and disseminated. Remarkably, Mr. Neary kept his job as a deputy prosecutor while his misdeeds were being described in appellate Opinions.
When in June of 2017 the COA handed down 50 (slip opinions) pages in Larkin II, the CLB was more than bewildered that Mr. Neary appeared (per the Roll of Attorneys) to still be with the Office of the LaPorte County Prosecutor. Then an anonymous source advised that Neary “retired” from his deputy prosecutor job to take a job as a theology/ethics (!) teacher at a local Catholic High School. When that offer was rescinded (due to Neary’s spreading reputation), Neary was rehired by the LaPorte County Prosecutor in a non-attorney position. Time will tell whether the LaPorte County Prosecutor will continue to employ a suspended attorney. If I (as an attorney in private practice) offered paralegal work to a suspended lawyer, I would face professional discipline.
There is no lesson to be learned from the disciplinary case of Robert Neary. What he did (twice) was outrageous and indefensible. No one should be surprised by the result.