October 17, 2008
Payment Without Performance
An attorney who had accepted fees but failed to perform services was suspended for two years by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court's web page reports:
The Supreme Court of Ohio has suspended the law license of Columbus attorney Madry L. Ellis for two years based on a course of professional misconduct during which Ellis accepted fee advances but then failed to perform promised legal services for 18 different clients who retained him to represent them in criminal cases.
The Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that, between 2003 and 2006, Ellis accepted fee advances ranging from $750 to $10,000 from clients or their families but then neglected or abandoned their cases and failed to answer their phone calls or other attempts to communicate with him or obtain refunds. The cases included several clients who were incarcerated and retained Ellis to file appeals or seek postconviction relief on their behalf. In five cases, Ellis accepted an initial fee and had no further contact with the client and/or his family.
The Court agreed with the board’s conclusion that Ellis committed multiple violations of state attorney discipline rules, including, among others, the rules that prohibit neglect of an entrusted client legal matter, failure to pursue the lawful objectives of a client, failure to pay or deliver funds to which a client is entitled, conduct involving deceit, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and failure to notify clients that an attorney lacks malpractice insurance.
Among conditions for his reinstatement after serving a two-year license suspension, the Court ordered that Ellis must remain in compliance with a recovery contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, serve a two-year probationary period during which his practice will be monitored, and submit evidence from a psychiatric expert that he is able to return to the competent and ethical practice of law.
The court's decision is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
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