Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Youngstown Two

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

In separate disciplinary actions announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio imposed indefinite license suspensions against Youngstown attorneys Warren “Bo” Pritchard and Brian P. Kish.

2011-0815. Mahoning Cty. Bar Assn. v. Pritchard, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-44.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 10-025. Warren G. Pritchard of Youngstown, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0008417 is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the state of Ohio.
O'Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Donnell, Lanzinger, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-Ohio-44.pdf

(Jan. 11, 2012) The Supreme Court of Ohio today indefinitely suspended attorney Warren “Bo” Pritchard of Youngstown from the practice of law for multiple violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules of Professional Conduct in his dealings with 20 different clients between 2006 and 2009. 

Pritchard’s law license has been under an interim remedial suspension since November 2009, when the Court received information documenting a pattern of neglect in his handling of entrusted client legal matters.

In its 7-0 per curiam decision, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that, in most of the cases at issue, Pritchard collected fee advances from clients, neglected or failed to complete the legal work for which he was retained, failed to respond to communications from the clients and refused to refund their retainers.

In imposing an indefinite license suspension without credit for the time he has served under interim suspension as the appropriate sanction for his misconduct, the Court noted the aggravating factors that Pritchard acted with a selfish motive, engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving multiple rule violations over an extended time period, caused harm to vulnerable clients and failed to make restitution. 

The Court set a number of conditions for any future reinstatement of Pritchard’s license, including restitution of unearned legal fees to his clients, certification by a mental health professional of his competence to return to the ethical practice of law, compliance with state continuing legal education requirements, a two-year period of supervised probation and completion of a comprehensive course in law-office management approved by the Mahoning County Bar Association.

2011-0846.  Mahoning Cty. Bar Assn. v. Kish, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-40.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 10-020. Brian P. Kish of Youngstown, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0074488, is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the state of Ohio and is ordered to make restitution.
O'Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Donnell, Lanzinger, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-Ohio-40.pdf

(Jan. 11, 2012) In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio indefinitely suspended the law license of Youngstown attorney Brian P. Kish for professional misconduct in his dealings with 12 clients.

The Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in 10 cases Kish accepted fee advances and agreed to perform legal work for clients, but failed to file necessary documents or appear at scheduled court proceedings, stopped responding to communications from the clients, and failed to refund unearned fees.

The Court agreed with the disciplinary board’s conclusions that Kish’s acts and omissions violated, among others, the rules of professional conduct that prohibit an attorney from charging an illegal or excessive fee and that require attorneys to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, to keep clients informed about the status of their legal matters and comply with reasonable requests for information, and to promptly refund the unearned portion of a client’s fee when withdrawing from representation.

As a result of today’s decision, Kish will not be eligible to apply for reinstatement of his license until January 2014.  Among prior conditions that must be met before reinstatement is granted, the Court required that Kish must make restitution of specified amounts to 10 of his former clients, must provide proof of continued mental health counseling and competence to return to the practice of law, and must agree to serve a two-year probationary period during which his practice and law office trust account will be monitored by the Mahoning County Bar Association.

(Mike Frisch)

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