Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Credit For Time Served By A 5-4 Vote

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:

The Ohio  Supreme Court today imposed an indefinite suspension against the law license of  Columbus attorney  Charles McGowan for  professional misconduct arising from his felony convictions for conspiracy to  commit money laundering and willful failure to report the receipt of more than  $10,000 in the course of his law practice. 

The court  also found that McGowan, whose license has been under an interim suspension  since December 2010 as a result of his felony convictions, was  guilty of additional disciplinary rule  violations in his handling of two client matters unrelated to the money  laundering conviction, and by virtue of his failure to cooperate with the  Columbus Bar Association’s investigation of his misconduct.

By a 4-3  vote, the court overruled a recommendation by the Board of Commissioners on  Grievances & Discipline that McGowan receive credit against today’s license  suspension for the time he has been barred from practice under his 2010 interim  suspension.  Citing the aggravating  factors  that McGowan engaged in a  pattern of misconduct involving multiple offenses, initially failed to  cooperate in the disciplinary process, and caused harm to vulnerable clients,  the court ordered that his indefinite suspension be served from the date of  today’s decision, which means the earliest date he would be eligible to apply  for reinstatement is April 16, 2015.

As  preconditions for any future reinstatement of his license, the court specified  that McGowan must complete the remaining term of federal supervised release  included in his criminal sentence, make restitution of unearned fees to  the clients whose cases he mishandled,  reimburse the state Clients’ Security Fund for any claims it has paid to his  clients, and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings resulting in today’s  decision.

The  court’s per curiam majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen  O’Connor and Justices Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy and Judith  L.  French.  Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell  and William M. O’Neill dissented, indicating that they would grant McGowan  credit toward the suspension imposed today for the time his license has been  under interim suspension.

The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)


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