Thursday, June 23, 2022

Driving While Naked Draws Ohio Indefinite Suspension

The Ohio Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended an attorney with a history of exposing himself, as explained by Dan Trevas

The Supreme Court of Ohio today indefinitely suspended a Hamilton, Ohio, attorney for repeatedly driving naked and exposing himself to other motorists.

In a per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court noted that Scott Blauvelt is in treatment for a bipolar disorder and has expressed remorse for his behavior. But the Court also noted that he still struggles with the urge to engage in his illicit behavior. To be reinstated to the practice of law in Ohio, Blauvelt will have to meet several conditions, including proving that he is in full compliance with his mental-health treatment plan and orders from the Butler County Area III Court.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Patrick F. Fischer, R. Patrick DeWine, Michael P. Donnelly, Melody Stewart, and Jennifer Brunner joined the opinion. Justice Sharon L. Kennedy did not participate in the case.

Repeat Suspensions Issued for Public Indecency
During an October 2018 traffic stop, Blauvelt was charged with public indecency and reckless operation of a vehicle when it was discovered that he was driving nude. Blauvelt pleaded guilty to the charges. Based on the incident, the Supreme Court in June 2020 imposed a two-year, fully stayed, suspension. In that opinion, the Court noted Blauvelt has a history of public nudity. In 2006, when he was the Hamilton city prosecutor, security cameras recorded him naked after hours in the government building housing the prosecutor’s office. The city fired him.

Three months after his 2020 suspension, the Butler County Bar Association requested an interim remedial suspension on the grounds that Blauvelt was twice again arrested for nude driving and exposing himself, and that he posed a substantial threat of serious harm to the public. The Court issued an interim suspension, barring him from practicing law, which remains in effect.

Today’s suspension is based on a subsequent complaint filed by the Butler County Bar Association in June 2021, which alleged that Blauvelt had been convicted of three additional counts of public indecency since he was first suspended. Blauvelt pleaded guilty or no contest to all the charges. His sentences included fines, a total of 14 days in jail, and probation terms ranging from two to five years.

Blauvelt also admitted that he has engaged in other similar acts of public indecency for which he was not arrested.

Attorney Participates in Treatment, Counseling
The opinion noted that since his most recent conviction, Blauvelt has participated in the Butler County Area III Court’s mental-health court, and began a two-year outpatient treatment program for compulsive-sexual behavior. He continues to see a psychiatrist to treat his bipolar disorder.

Blauvelt previously testified before a panel of the Board of Professional Conduct that although he has mostly managed his bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse — more specifically, binge drinking — has at times diminished his ability to moderate his behavior. Blauvelt stated he had abstained from
alcohol since June 2019 and started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

At his most recent disciplinary hearing, Blauvelt testified that he does not want to engage in acts of public indecency, but wrestles with the urge to do so. He said he intended to complete his outpatient treatment program but acknowledged that his mental-health issues will likely persist throughout his life, and he may need to remain in treatment indefinitely.

The board found Blauvelt engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. The board’s report to the Court indicated it was troubled by Blauvelt’s continued misconduct despite his previous discipline, and his knowledge that his conduct was causing harm to others.

The Court agreed with the board’s recommendation to indefinitely suspend Blauvelt “to protect the public and ensure that Blauvelt cannot resume the practice of law until he is able to conform his conduct to the ethical and professional standards incumbent on lawyers in this state.”

To be reinstated, Blauvelt not only must demonstrate proof of compliance with his treatment plan, but also must continue to abstain from consuming alcohol, and meet all the conditions imposed under his June 2020 suspension. If he is reinstated, he must serve a period of monitored probation. The Court also ordered Blauvelt to pay for the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

2022-0149Butler Cty. Bar Assn. v. BlauveltSlip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-2108.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/06/the-ohio-supreme-court-has-indefinitely-suspended-an-attorney-with-a-history-of-exposing-himself-the-supreme-court-of-ohio-t.html

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