Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Avoiding Obligations Leads To Indefinite Suspension

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports the indefinite suspension of an attorney:

The law license of Columbus attorney Michael McCord has been indefinitely suspended by the Supreme Court of Ohio for multiple acts of professional misconduct.

In a 5-2 per curiam opinion, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that McCord improperly accepted legal fees during a 31-month period in which his license was under an interim suspension for being delinquent in his child support obligations; and that he made false and misleading statements regarding his continuing receipt of fees in response to inquiries by disciplinary authorities. 

The Court also agreed with board findings that McCord, who is a sole practitioner, deceptively held himself out as a member of business entities named “McCord Pryor & Associates,” “McCord, Pryor & Associates Co. L.P.A.,” and “McCord & Associates” when he was never involved in a partnership or joint practice with the other attorney identified in those firm names, and his own law practice never employed persons who qualified as “associates.”  

In addition to the violations found by the disciplinary board, the Court also held that McCord engaged in professional misconduct by unreasonably protracting litigation to delay complying with a court-ordered increase in his child support payments; by failing to pay an expert witness after promising to do so; and by creating a deceptively named business entity for the sole purpose of sheltering his assets from garnishment to satisfy his child support obligations.

One interesting aspect of the court's decision relates to the payment of an expert witness. The lawyer retained the expert, gave the expert a check and stopped payment after the expert testified at a deposition. The lawyer claimed that the expert was unprepared and not entitled to payment. The disciplinary panel found that this was not misconduct but the court here found a violation. Experts of the world rejoice.

A concurring justice would not find the violation in the expert payment matter. A dissent would impose a two year suspension with one year stayed.

The court's opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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