Thursday, September 1, 2011
From the Ohio Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court of Ohio has suspended the license of [a] Strongsville attorney...for six months for improperly notarizing signatures on legal documents on three separate occasions.
In its 6-1 per curiam decision, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [the attorney] engaged in conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation when he notarized a promissory note, mortgage and quitclaim deed and a land contract, attesting that in each instance he had witnessed the signing of those documents by both the borrower and his wife.
Despite [his] continuing insistence that both the borrower and a person purporting to be his wife had signed the documents in his presence, the Court noted that both the borrower and his wife testified before a disciplinary hearing panel that the wife had not signed any of the documents, and the borrower testified that in each instance he had signed his wife’s name. The Court also noted that after analyzing the documents in question, a forensic handwriting analyst from the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation testified that the signatures on the respective documents were not those of the borrower’s wife, and that there was “a high degree of certainty” that the wife’s purported signatures that had been notarized by [the attorney] had in fact been forged by her husband.
The majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Robert R. Cupp and Yvette McGee Brown. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer dissented, stating that he would impose a six-month license suspension with all six months stayed as the appropriate sanction.
The attorney also had testified falsesly in a related deposition.
The court's opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)