December 11, 2008
Too Late To Mitigate
The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports a decision imposing permanent disbarment:
In today’s 6-1 per curiam decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted the findings and recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline, which was forced to adjudicate the complaint filed against Lentes by means of default proceedings because he failed to respond to numerous letters and notices or to appear for a scheduled hearing.
Among multiple acts of misconduct, the Court found that Lentes repeatedly lied to his clients regarding the status of legal matters he claimed to have undertaken for them. On several occasions, Lentes had clients come to the courthouse and wait outside a courtroom while he made fictitious appearances at non-existent hearings. In one case, the Court noted that Lentes presented his client with a fictitious judgment entry on which he had forged the signature of Judge D. Dean Evans of the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas.
The Court rejected Lentes’ attempts to present evidence in mitigation of his violations after failing to appear at a hearing or otherwise cooperate with disciplinary proceedings. In determining that permanent disbarment was “the only appropriate sanction” for Lentes’ multiple acts of dishonesty and disregard of his responsibility to clients, the Court concluded: “Respondent’s dishonesty in his law practice, his lack of cooperation in the disciplinary process, and his repeated neglect of his clients’ legal matters demonstrate that he is not fit to practice law.”
Justice Paul E. Pfeifer entered a dissent stating that he would accept Lentes’ proffered resignation from the bar, or in the alternative would impose an indefinite license suspension rather than permanent disbarment as the appropriate sanction for Lentes’ misconduct.
The court's decision is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
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