Thursday, August 27, 2009
The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports on a case of permanent disbarment:
The Supreme Court of Ohio today permanently revoked the law license of Middletown attorney Karan Marie Horan for multiple acts of professional misconduct including conversion of a minor client’s trust fund, neglecting and abandoning legal matters entrusted to her by several clients without refunding their unearned fee advances and filing falsified applications in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas seeking payment for legal services she had not performed. Horan’s license has been under suspension since December 2007 for failure to comply with state attorney registration requirements.
The Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in six different cases Horan obtained fee advances of up to $10,000 to pursue legal matters on behalf of clients, but subsequently failed to make required appearances or filings and ultimately abandoned the clients’ cases without notice and without refunding any of their unearned fee advances. The Court also adopted the board’s findings that Horan violated her fiduciary duty to a minor for whom she served as guardian ad litem by failing to deliver the proceeds of a trust account to which the minor was entitled on his 18th birthday. The client has been unsuccessful in locating the proceeds of the trust or in contacting Horan, whom the Butler County sheriff reports has left the country without leaving a forwarding address and has not returned.
The Court also noted that Horan was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on 28 counts of tampering with records, one count of forgery, and one count of grand theft stemming from her alteration of fee applications to cover court-appointed work worth several thousand dollars by replacing other attorneys’ names and addresses with the name of another attorney who once practiced law in Ohio, and including her home address. It was also discovered that Horan had altered fee applications for services she performed on behalf of indigent defendants by “whiting-out” the reduced compensation granted by the court because her application was submitted late and replacing the lower figures with the original amounts. Because of her disappearance, Horan has not been tried on these criminal counts.
Based on its findings that Horan has engaged in conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation, committed illegal acts that reflect adversely on her honesty and trustworthiness, failed to maintain client moneys in a segregated account, failed to promptly pay moneys to which her clients were entitled and committed multiple other violations of state attorney discipline rules, the Court voted 7-0 to impose permanent disbarment as the only appropriate sanction for her misconduct.