Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harm To Clients Draws Suspension

From the Ohio Supreme Court:

 The Supreme Court of Ohio today indefinitely suspended the law license of [a] Cleveland attorney... for professional misconduct in her dealings with two clients, and for failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities during the investigation of the grievances filed against her by those clients.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision, the Court agreed with findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in one case [the attorney] made improper use of her law office trust account.  This included using client funds on deposit in that account to advance $1,000 to another client she was representing, failing to reconcile or maintain accurate records for the trust account, and overdrawing the account.  In a second case, the board found that [she] agreed to represent a client in the appeal of a criminal conviction, but despite being granted multiple continuances, she never filed a brief in the case, resulting in the dismissal of her client’s appeal.

After the clients involved in both cases filed grievances with disciplinary authorities, [she] failed to file an answer to either complaint or respond to repeated demands that she appear and produce documents related to the clients’ cases. The board ultimately conducted default disciplinary proceedings on the complaints. 

The Court adopted the board’s conclusion that [the attorney] violated the state attorney discipline rule that prohibits an attorney from providing financial assistance to a client other than court or litigation costs.  The Court also affirmed the board’s findings that Ranke failed to maintain accurate records of client funds on deposit in her trust account,  engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and engaged in conduct that reflects adversely on her fitness to practice law.

In imposing the board’s recommended sanction of an indefinite suspension, the Court noted the aggravating factors that [she] was previously reprimanded for neglect of an entrusted legal matter, failed to cooperate with the investigation of her current misconduct, and caused harm to her clients.

The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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