Tuesday, November 8, 2022
The Ohio Supreme Court has imposed a fully-stayed 18 month suspension for an attorney's ethical violations in dealing with a client of diminished capacity
Jarvis...made no effort to establish or maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with a client whose capacity was known to be diminished. Jarvis never met with Frank to assess his capacity or ascertain his wishes for his end-of-life care and the disposition of his estate before preparing the necessary documents. Instead, he drafted the documents pursuant to the instructions of Frank’s family members. Jarvis directed his employee to obtain the client’s signature on those documents outside of his presence and then fraudulently notarized them under jurats falsely stating that Frank had personally appeared before him and voluntarily signed the instrument. Jarvis further attested that Frank appeared to be of sound mind when he signed two of those documents—even though he was not present when those documents were signed and had no personal knowledge of Frank’s mental status. Jarvis’s multiple failures opened the door to allegations that Frank and Lenor had been unduly influenced or coerced to modify their estate plan, which led to another six years of estate litigation and more than ten years of malpractice litigation.
The presumption of actual suspension for dishonesty was rebutted
the mitigating factors present in this case are sufficient to rebut the presumption that Jarvis’s dishonesty requires an actual suspension from the practice of law. We believe that an 18-month suspension, stayed in its entirety on the conditions recommended by the board, is the appropriate sanction in this case.