Thursday, May 8, 2014

Reprimand To Remand And Back to Reprimand For Former State Representative

Bret Crow reports on the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio  Supreme Court today publicly reprimanded former State. Rep. Robert P.  Mecklenborg for drunk driving and for negligently misrepresenting facts on his driver’s  license renewal application.

Mecklenborg  was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of  alcohol in Indiana in April 2011. Four days later, he applied to renew his Ohio  driver’s license. In September of that year, Mecklenborg entered a no-contest  plea to a misdemeanor violation of Ohio Revised Code section 4507.17  (prohibiting any person whose license is suspended or canceled from applying  for or receiving a new license during the suspension or cancellation).

After  the Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint, the parties agreed that Mecklenborg’s  conduct violated two attorney professional conduct rules and that the  appropriate sanction was a public reprimand.

The  Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline recommended the Supreme  Court adopt the consent-to-discipline agreement and sanction, but the Supreme  Court sent the case back to the board for consideration of a harsher sanction  in April 2013.

A  hearing panel of the board issued a report and recommended to the full board that  Mecklenborg be suspended from the practice of law for six months, stayed on the  condition that he commit no further misconduct.

The  board then concluded that Mecklenborg had not engaged in an intentional act of  dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation and dismissed that rule  violation. The violation of Prof.Cond.R. 8.4(h) remained (prohibiting a lawyer  from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to  practice law).

According  to the court’s per curiam (not assigned to a specific justice) opinion, “the  board found that in light of the facts that Mecklenborg had sought and acted on  the advice of counsel and signed a preprinted form provided by the Bureau of  Motor Vehicles, his conduct did not constitute an intentional act of  dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”

Once  again, the board recommended a public reprimand to the court, which the court  adopted by a 6-1 vote. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor would have imposed a  stayed six-month suspension.

The  court also addressed the issue of an appropriate sanction in its opinion.

“We have publicly reprimanded attorneys who have notarized documents  without having witnessed the signatures – conduct that is arguably more  egregious than Mecklenborg’s negligent misrepresentation to the Bureau of Motor  Vehicles. Moreover, a panel of 12 appellate court judges has publicly  reprimanded a justice of this court who was convicted of driving while under  the influence of alcohol.”

2012-1700. Disciplinary Counsel  v. Mecklenborg, Slip  Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-1908.

(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2014/05/reprimand-to-remand-and-back-to-reprimand-for-former-state-representative.html

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