Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hard Times

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of Ohio has suspended the law license of [a] Norwalk attorney...for two years, with 18 months of that term stayed on conditions, for neglecting the bankruptcy cases of eight different clients between 2007 and 2009. 

In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that in each of the eight cases [the attorney] accepted fee advances from clients to pursue personal bankruptcy proceedings on their behalf, but either failed to prepare a bankruptcy petition or filed a petition but then failed to complete additional steps necessary to advance the client’s claims.

Derby entered into joint stipulations with the Erie-Huron County Grievance Committee admitting that in each case he violated the state attorney discipline rules that require an attorney to exercise reasonable diligence in representing clients, to keep clients advised about the status of their cases, to reply promptly to client inquiries and to advise clients in writing that he was not covered by professional malpractice insurance.

The Court noted that in the months before his rule violations began, [his] wife, who also served as his law office assistant, became gravely ill and died, and that [he] subsequently experienced severe financial problems, began to abuse alcohol and lost his home to foreclosure.  In setting the sanction for his misconduct, the Court cited the mitigating factors that [he] had no prior disciplinary sanctions, had made restitution to seven of the eight clients whose cases he neglected and had undertaken a recovery program under the supervision of the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP).

The Court specified that, after serving the initial six months of his suspension, [his] reinstatement would be conditioned on a number of factors including renewal and continuing compliance with his OLAP recovery contract, and certification by a psychiatrist that he was capable of returning to the competent and ethical practice of law.

The court's opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

January 17, 2012 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Only Through "A Committee Of Responsible Persons"

A recent opinion on judicial elections from the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee:

QUESTION 1:  May a judge accept campaign contributions from a candidate running for office in a non-judicial election?

ANSWER: No. A committee of responsible persons established to secure funds for the campaign however may accept such contributions.

QUESTION 2:  May a judge accept contributions from an officer in a local political party organization?

ANSWER: No. A committee of responsible persons established to secure funds for the campaign however may accept such contributions.

QUESTION 3:  May a judge accept contributions that the persons identified in Questions 1 and 2 have generated, if neither of these persons is on the committee of responsible persons established to secure funds for the judge's campaign?

ANSWER: No. A committee of responsible persons established to secure funds for the campaign may accept such contributions.  Neither the judge nor the committee of responsible persons however may encourage or facilitate, directly or indirectly, the activities of either: (i) a candidate running for another office; or (ii) a political party or an officer thereof, to generate contributions to the judge's campaign.

(MIke Frisch)

January 16, 2012 in Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shakespeare In Colorado

An attorney who accepted loans from two clients without advising them to seek independent legal advice received a stayed six-month suspension in Colorado. he also had misrepresented the purpose of one of the loans.

He also got some advice from the Hearing Board, quoting the Bard of Avon:

Polonius' familiar advice to "[n]either a borrower nor a lender be" is particularly apt in the context of an attorney-client relationship.

The attorney will serve a three-year period of probation that will require him to keep a honor a repayment schedule and report the payments to disciplinary authorities. (Mike Frisch)

January 16, 2012 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)