Thursday, October 31, 2013

From Mental Health Suspension To Disciplinary Suspension

From Kathleen Mahoney on the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

The  Supreme Court of Ohio today suspended the law license of Cincinnati attorney  Joy Lawrence for one year. The unanimous decision also ended Lawrence’s mental  health suspension, imposed in 2005, and then addressed the underlying  disciplinary charges.

Following a surgery in 2002, Lawrence suffered significant cognitive impairment. The court in 2005 found that she had a mental health disorder stemming from the surgery, which impaired her ability to practice law, and imposed a mental health suspension.

In the current case, the Board of Commissioners  on Grievances and Discipline determined that evidence submitted by Lawrence and  an independent mental health evaluation demonstrated that she is no longer  mentally ill. The court agreed and, in its per curiam (not authored by a  specific justice) opinion, today terminated Lawrence’s mental health  suspension.

In reviewing the underlying misconduct in  three client matters prior to 2005, the board also found that Lawrence did not  maintain complete records of the client funds in her possession, withdrew fees not  yet earned from her client trust account, did not perform contracted legal  work, and failed to cooperate in the resulting disciplinary investigation. 

The court agreed and determined that the  board’s recommended sanction of a one-year actual suspension from the practice  of law was appropriate for this misconduct. 

If Lawrence wants to practice law again, she will  need to petition the court for reinstatement; submit a report from a mental health  professional stating that she is able to return to the competent, ethical, and  professional practice of law; and enter into a contract with the Ohio Lawyers  Assistance Program and comply with their treatment recommendations. If  reinstated, she must serve two years of monitored probation.

The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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