Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Another disciplinary decision from the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
The license of [a] Toledo attorney...has been suspended for two years, with the second year of that term stayed on conditions, for repeatedly overbilling the Lucas County juvenile and common pleas courts for her services as court-appointed counsel representing low-income clients.
In a decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that [she] engaged in a pattern of professional misconduct by submitting bills to the courts claiming to have worked for more than 24 hours on the same date on three occasions, and billing for more than 20 hours on five other dates during 2006. In all, [she] invoiced the county for a total of 3,451 billable hours for work allegedly performed during that calendar year, a number that would require her to have worked almost 10 hours per day on all 365 days of the year. [The attorney] acknowledged that she had not worked that many hours, and that a number of invoices she submitted to the court did not accurately reflect her actual hours of work on the dates in question.
The Court agreed with the board’s conclusions that by knowingly billing for more hours than she had actually worked, [the attorney] violated the state disciplinary rules that prohibit charging an excessive fee; engaging in conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation; engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the attorney’s fitness to practice law.
The court’s 6-0 per curiam opinion was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor, Terrence O’Donnell, and Robert R. Cupp, and by Judge Sheila G. Farmer of the 5th District Court of Appeals, who sat in place of Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger. Chief Justice Eric Brown did not participate in the court’s deliberations or decision in the case.
Here is the court's opinion. (Mike Frisch)