Thursday, June 30, 2022
The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a one-year suspension with six months stayed for misconduct involving sex and lies but no videotape
In a June 2021 complaint, relator, disciplinary counsel, alleged that Noble had committed five ethical violations by engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client and making false statements about his conduct to opposing counsel, a police chief, and a municipal court.
The attorney admitted the allegations.
In September 2018, Jane Doe met with Noble to discuss the termination of her marriage, and she chose to have Noble represent her. Initially, Doe’s meetings with Noble focused solely on her legal matter, but within a week or two, she and Noble began expressing feelings for each other. After three or four meetings, they commenced a sexual relationship that continued for almost two years.
Opposing counsel had raised the issue
Noble later told Doe that he had lied to opposing counsel about their relationship and that she should obtain new counsel to represent her. In January 2019, Noble withdrew from Doe’s divorce case and transferred her entire retainer to her new attorney. Doe’s divorce became final in August 2019.
In 2020, Noble was campaigning as a judicial candidate for a seat on the Portage County Court of Common Pleas while also attempting to reconcile with his ex-wife. He did not inform his ex-wife that he was still dating Doe, and he did not want his relationship with Doe to become public knowledge.
In April 2020, [Jane Doe's husband] D.P.—a police officer—confronted Noble in the parking lot outside Noble’s office. By that time, Noble had been dating Doe for over 18 months. D.P. did not reveal his identity, and Noble claimed that he did not know who D.P. was—though D.P. repeatedly stated, “You know who I am.” After about five minutes, both men drove away.
In late May, Noble’s ex-wife found a flirtatious text message from Doe on Noble’s cell phone and confronted him about it. Noble denied having a physical relationship with Doe but told his ex-wife that Doe’s ex-husband, D.P., was a police officer who had accused Noble of having an affair with Doe. Noble’s ex-wife reached out to D.P., asked if he would be willing to share any information that he had about Noble and Doe, and arranged to meet him at a restaurant.
There followed a series of events between the ex-wife, D.P. and a mysterious man who approached her in a pizzeria
In July 2020, however, Noble and his ex-wife were charged with first-degree-misdemeanor counts of falsification and making false alarms for the complaints they had filed against D.P. The charges against Noble were eventually dismissed, and his ex-wife pleaded guilty to an amended charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor.
He sought to seal the records
The court denied Noble’s petition to seal the record, noting that Noble had admitted to lying to the police and that the statute of limitations for the dismissed charges had not elapsed. The court also expressed concern that sealing the record might impede the board’s ability to fulfill its obligation.
Noble acknowledged that lawyers are held to a higher standard of conduct than the general public and that he failed to hold himself to that standard while making “a lot of really, really bad decisions.” He admitted that he had been dishonest with Doe, D.P. and D.P.’s counsel, the police chief, his ex-wife, and the judge who presided over the hearing on his petition to seal the criminal charges against him. He stated that he had apologized to several of those people in person, and during his disciplinary hearing, he expressed deep regret to those he had not seen face-to-face. In his apology to the legal community, Noble stated that his conduct was horrible and disgraceful and that he wished he had had the wherewithal to step back, take a look at what he was doing, and put a stop to it.
...Accordingly, Michael Allen Noble is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for one year with six months stayed on the conditions that he (1) commit no further misconduct and (2) continue to participate in mental-health counseling throughout his suspension at a frequency to be determined by his counselor or another qualified healthcare professional.