October 13, 2009
First Mistake Draws Suspension
From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of Ohio today suspended the license of [a] Cleveland attorney...for one year, with six months of that term stayed, for improperly notarizing nine documents when he had not personally witnessed the signatures on those documents, and later participating in a meeting at which a power of attorney form was fraudulently back-dated to cover up the improper notarization.
The Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [the attorney's] conduct violated the state attorney discipline rules that prohibit conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation and conduct that reflects adversely on an attorney’s fitness to practice law.
The court's opinion is linked here. The hearing panel had proposed a fully-stayed suspension, but the Board of Commissioners concluded that the multiple acts of fraud required an actual six-month suspension. The court here adopted the board's recommended sanction.
Justice O'Donnell would stay the suspension: "After practicing law for 49 years without a blemish, respondent, believing he was helping, made mistakes by notarizing documents that he had not seen the affiant sign. Given that this record does not demonstrate any financial loss to the parties involved...a sanction of a stayed suspension is appropriate." (Mike Frisch)
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