Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Former Pharmacist Seeks Bar Admission

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court has this summary of a case to be argued today:

The Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board on Character and Fitness has recommended that the application of Daniel P. Poignon of  Toledo to take the Ohio Bar Examination be disapproved, and that Poignon not be permitted to register as a candidate for admission to the practice of law in the future. That recommendation was based on a report filed with the board by the Toledo Bar Association and the board’s own determination that Poignon does not meet the character and fitness requirements for admission to the practice of law in Ohio.

The board noted that Poignon was previously licensed as a pharmacist in 1984 and worked at several jobs in that field over a 15 year period, but was dismissed from several positions for improper handling or use of prescription medications and had his pharmacy license permanently revoked by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy in 2000 based on two felony convictions for theft of drugs from a Toledo pharmacy where he was employed.  After completing a term in a correctional treatment facility and failing in an effort to compel the pharmacy board to allow him to apply for reinstatement, Poignon obtained a certificate in paralegal studies and worked for a time at a Toledo law firm. He was admitted to the University of Toledo Law School in 2007 and graduated in 2010.

Pursuant to its duties to certify to the Supreme Court the character and fitness of prospective applicants for admission to Ohio bar, the Toledo Bar Association admissions committee reviewed Poignon’s application to take the state bar examination and interviewed him. The committee subsequently recommended against allowing Poignon to take the 2012 bar examination, based on his past conduct involving fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; failure to comply with the ethical rules of another profession; failure to demonstrate personal accountability for his prior drug-related offenses; and neglect of his personal financial responsibilities over the 10 years since he completed his criminal sentence. The Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness reviewed the bar association’s recommendation and Poignon’s appeal, and recommended not only that that the Court deny his current application for admission to the bar, but also that he not be permitted to reapply in the future.
Poignon has filed objections to the board’s findings and recommendation that he be permanently barred from reapplying for admission to the bar. While acknowledging that his recent lack of regular employment and unmet financial obligations, in combination with his past conduct, do not demonstrate current fitness for admission to the bar, he urges the Court not to impose a lifetime ban against him but rather to reserve judgment and allow him to take further actions that show his ability to be a competent and ethical attorney. 

Special Counsel for the Board of Commissioners has filed a response to Poignon’s objections in which counsel disputes Poignon’s claims that the board’s recommendation placed too much emphasis on potential negative public perceptions that might result from the admission as an attorney of a person who was previously stripped of another professional license. Counsel argues that the evidence reviewed by the board showed that Poignon was involved in the theft and/or abuse of prescription drugs for most of the 15 years he was licensed as a pharmacist, that he continues to blame his former employers, coworkers, attorneys and others for the conduct that resulted in his felony convictions, and that he has not held regular employment for more than a few months or demonstrated personal financial responsibility during the 10 years since he completed his sentence in 2001.  Counsel asserts that these factors support the board’s conclusion that Poignon failed to demonstrate either his current fitness or a reasonable likelihood of achieving future fitness for admission to the practice of law.

(Mike Frisch)


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