Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Without Credible Supporting Evidence"

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of Ohio has indefinitely suspended the law license of Cleveland attorney Merrie Maurine Frost for multiple disciplinary infractions arising from her filing of false and unsupported accusations of bias and corruption against the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, three local judges and a federal district court judge, and filing of a baseless defamation suit against two attorneys who were her opposing counsel in a sex-discrimination case.

The Court affirmed findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Frost’s actions violated, among others, the state disciplinary rules that require attorneys to maintain a respectful attitude toward the courts and prohibit knowingly making false accusations against a judge; knowingly advancing a claim that is unwarranted under existing law; taking action in a legal matter that would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another; engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and engaging in conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation.

In adopting the disciplinary board’s recommended sanction of an indefinite license suspension, the Court noted that while attorneys have a constitutionally protected right of free speech, they also have an ethical duty to avoid using legal proceedings as a platform from which to publicly impugn the honesty and integrity of judges and other attorneys without credible supporting evidence as a basis for those claims.  In setting conditions for possible reinstatement of Frost’s license after June 24, 2011, the Court ordered that any petition for reinstatement must include a physician’s statement that she is mentally fit to return to the competent, professional and ethical practice of law.

The court rejected claims that the conduct involved protected speech and concluded that the attorney made baseless charges. Further, "[the attorney] seems unable to understand fundamental evidentiary and procedural rules, a problem manifested by her disjointed efforts to present her case before the hearing panel."

The court's opinion is linked here. Linked here is a Sixth Circuit decision in another matter handled by the attorney where the court notes that the lawyer "graciously conceded during oral argument that, if there is anyone to blame for the [frivolous] litigation, she should be the one and not her client. " (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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Cases such as this are always suspect which is why I am very pleased to see that the court took some effort to go through the claims and refute them based upon the evidence.

I do find it disturbing though that the court required mental fitness before reinstatement and opined that the lawyer might be suffering “unaddressed mental-health issues”. There was no medical evidence before the court and presumably the judges of the court are not qualified to render a psychiatric opinion. This smacks of the Soviet method of labelling adversaries as mentally damaged. Unfortunate as this brings into doubt an otherwise well done opinion.


Posted by: FixedWing | Jun 24, 2009 8:49:29 AM

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