June 23, 2011
Out Of Character
From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of Ohio has voted to permanently disbar former Cleveland attorney Dea Lynn Character.
In a 7-0 per curiam opinion released today, the Court affirmed findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Character committed more than 40 violations of state attorney discipline rules in her dealings with multiple clients over a four-year period.
Those violations included, among others, neglect of multiple civil and criminal matters entrusted to her by clients, charging clearly excessive fees and failing to perform promised legal services or refund the clients’ fees; accepting employment in cases she was not prepared to handle; failing to maintain funds she held on behalf of clients in a separate trust account; entering into business and financial relationships with clients without disclosing personal interests that might conflict with the clients’ interest; and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; conduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; and conduct that reflects adversely on her fitness to practice law.
In adopting the disciplinary board’s recommended sanction of permanent disbarment, the Court found the aggravating factors that Character, who is currently incarcerated at the Marysville Correctional Facility for criminal acts not addressed in the current complaint, had a history of prior disciplinary offenses, engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving multiple offenses, refused to acknowledge the wrongful nature of her conduct, caused harm to vulnerable clients and other victims, and failed to make restitution.
The court rejected the attorney's claim that the criminal proceedings caused prejudice to her in the disciplinary case. Further, the court held that she had no right to appear at the bar proceeding while incarcerated. Her right to testify was protected by a video deposition.
The attorney was found to have engaged in misconduct by doing business as Character, Character & Associates when she was a sole practicioner.
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