Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Misuse Of Trust Account

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court notes:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today imposed a 24-month suspension against the license of  [a] Cleveland  attorney...for engaging in a pattern of misconduct in which [he] commingled his own funds with client funds on deposit in his law office trust account, and improperly used the trust account as a personal bank account and operating account for an extended period in order to avoid collection actions by his creditors for unpaid judgments and delinquent taxes.

In a 6-1 decision, the Court voted  to adopt findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [the attorney] engaged in fraudulent trust account practices and deliberate deceptions between January 2006 and May 2007.  Specifically, he] violated the rules of professional conduct that require an attorney to maintain a trust account in which only client funds are held, to avoid commingling of his personal funds with monies held for clients, and to keep full and accurate records of all funds deposited to and withdrawn from his trust account. The Court also found violations of the disciplinary rules that prohibit attorneys from engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and conduct that adversely reflects on an attorney’s fitness to practice law.

The Court adopted the disciplinary board’s recommended sanction of a 24-month license suspension, and imposed as pre-conditions for reinstatement the requirements that [the attorney] complete six additional continuing legal education hours in law-office management and accounting and fully pay or provide evidence that he has entered into settlements of 12 court judgments currently outstanding against him totaling nearly $25,000.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, was joined by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor, Terrence O’Donnell and Robert R. Cupp. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer dissented, stating that he would impose a two-year suspension with the second year stayed on conditions.

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


Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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