Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Car Trouble

The Ohio Supreme Court has imposed an indefinite suspension of an attorney for two criminal incidents.

From the report of  the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline

On February 17, 2005, Respondent and a male companion were en route from Cleveland to Oxford, Ohio, traveling in a vehicle owned by Respondent but driven by the male companion. Respondent had previously represented the male companion on a felony drug case. She admitted that he was a known drug dealer who she had asked to drive her to Oxford, Ohio, for a hearing on a completely unrelated matter.

 As they approached the City of Oxford, Respondent and her companion became lost and stopped to ask a police officer for directions to the courthouse where Respondent was scheduled to appear.

The police officer advised Respondent and her companion that he also was scheduled to appear in court and that the two could follow him.

Unfortunately the car ran out of gas on the way. The situation eventually led to a search of the car

During the search, police discovered a Louis Vuitton change purse in the unlocked glove box compartment. Inside the change purse was a glossy page containing a folded advertisement for legal services typically found in legal publications. Inside that paper was a white powdery substance along with a straw with white residue inside it. The court noted in its decision that the change purse was one that would typically be carried by a woman.

The search also revealed a makeup bag behind the driver's sear which contained a small baggie containing white cocaine residue.

Subsequently, Respondent was charged and convicted of cocaine possession, a 5th degree felony.

Respondent, while admitting to recreational use of cocaine, steadfastly maintained her innocence at the hearing.

In 2007, she reported that her car had been stolen

Thereafter, Respondent was charged with Disrupting Public Service in Bedford Municipal Court. There was no evidence presented to the panel regarding Respondent's specific conduct that led to the criminal charges. However, at a video appearance before the Bedford Municipal Court, the judge presiding over the matter became concerned about Respondent's behavior in court, and remanded Respondent for a mental competency examination conducted at the Northcoast Behavioral Center. Respondent was held there for approximately sixty (60) days.

On January 22, 2007, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Respondent on nine counts of disrupting public service in violation of R.C. 2909.04, a 5th degree felony, and one count of resisting arrest in violation of R.C. 2921.33, a 2"d degree misdemeanor.

Subsequently, Respondent entered a plea of guilty, and was found guilty of one count of disrupting public service and a charge of resisting arrest in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

The board on sanction

Relator requested that Respondent be disbarred. The panel does not agree that the facts in this case warrant such a severe sanction. It is clear that the felony conviction for disrupting public service was influenced by a mental and/or chemically induced episode as evidenced by her hospitalization for a competency evaluation by the court conducting her initial appearance. Respondent had been diagnosed as being bipolar with major depressive episodes by her treating psychiatrist, Dr. Cerny. However, Dr. Cerny testified that the bipolar condition was very likely substance-induced and caused by Respondent's admitted abuse of cocaine, diet pills and Adderall. Respondent is not currently bipolar and is unlikely to have a relapse absent drug abuse. Furthermore, Dr. Cerny could not testify that Respondent's drug-induced bipolar condition caused her to commit the misconduct herein, or that she is currently fit to practice law.

(MIke Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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