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Lawyers Disciplined for Abusive Language, Neglecting Cases

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A roundup of ethics cases from Illinois and Ohio.

An Illinois lawyer who used “abusive and vulgar language” during a deposition and accused a judge of “robe rage” is facing a possible three-month suspension.

An Ohio lawyer who “stole or overcharged” around $128,000 from the accounts of a mentally ill client has been indefinitely suspended.

And another Ohio lawyer has been indefinitely suspended for misappropriating funds, failing to communicate with clients, failing to diligently pursue client objectives and missing client meetings and court appearances.

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“Robe Rage” In Illinois
“An Illinois ethics hearing board has recommended a three-month suspension for a Chicago lawyer who insulted an opposing lawyer,” according to the ABA Journal. “The lawyer … used ‘abusive and vulgar language’ during a November 2016 deposition [and] also made false or reckless statements when he said the judge who criticized his comments had engaged in ‘robe rage,’ the hearing board said in its April 29 report and recommendation.”

The board concluded that the deposition comments had “no valid purpose,” were intended to disrupt the proceedings, and were “objectively insulting and vulgar.”

Read more about this case here, here and here.

Overbilling and Wrongful Transfers
“The Ohio Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended a lawyer accused of transferring more than $147,000 from the accounts of a mentally ill client, although he and his law firm were only owed about $19,000,” reports the ABA Journal. “The rest of the money—about $128,000—was the amount that [the] lawyer of Dublin, Ohio, stole from or overcharged the client, the Ohio Supreme Court said in an April 21 opinion. Among the overcharges: [the lawyer] charged legal rates to perform personal services for the client that included helping her with household tasks, mowing her lawn, organizing her finances and doing her shopping. He charged his $250 hourly rate for some of the services and his law firm’s $125 paralegal rate for others, the Ohio Supreme Court said. On some days, he billed the client twice, at both the lawyer and paralegal rate, for what appeared to be the same services.”

Read the Ohio Supreme Court opinion here.
Read more on this case here, here and here.

Drugs, Misappropriation and Neglect of Cases
The Ohio lawyer in the third case began exhibiting “increasingly erratic” behavior in 2017, according to the Ohio Supreme Court opinion. He allegedly offered a client Xanax and asked another client who had been prescribed medication after a car incident to provide him with Percocet or Vicodin. He pled guilty to forgery and petty theft after allegedly forging his law firm’s endorsement on a $10,500 personal injury check and misappropriating $312. He also pled guilty to attempted trespass for “breaking into his mother-in-law’s home and leaving a message on her computer,” according to the ABA Journal.

The lawyer has been sober since July 2017 and leads an addiction recovery group in his church.

From the ABA Journal: “[H]e has been on an interim suspension since September 2017. He has paid more than $14,000 in restitution to clients and his former firm. He has promised to pay another $1,000 in restitution. [He] can apply for reinstatement in two years if he shows proof that he has paid the $1,000 in restitution, maintained his sobriety, and complied with the terms of his contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program. He also must submit an opinion from a health care professional or dependency counselor that says he can return to competent and ethical law practice.”

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