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Ohio Supreme Court upholds attorney's disbarment

An Ohio attorney has been permanently prohibited from practicing law in the state by a majority ruling of the Ohio Supreme Court. Charges were filed against the attorney by the Lake County Bar Association in February 2014 after questions were raised about his conduct in a number of cases. The embattled lawyer blamed his problems on depression caused by a series of personal tragedies, but he admitted that he had violated several rules of professional conduct. The Supreme Court upheld the man's disbarment by a 4-3 vote.

The attorney is said to have settled a lawsuit without telling his clients and then forged their signatures on a $14,000 insurance company check. The couple later sued the attorney and were awarded a default judgement of $100,000. According to reports, the attorney also failed to disclose a conflict of interest when handling the estate of an individual who owed him money. He is said to have taken $50,000 from the estate without permission, which a court later ordered returned.

The attorney's claims that he only made these legal errors due to depression failed to impress either the Lake County Bar Association or the Ohio Supreme Court. The bar association pointed to inconsistencies in the medical testimony provided by the attorney's psychiatrist, and the state's highest court noted that the attorney had failed to meet the burden necessary to prove his depression was responsible.

Clients place a great deal of trust in their attorneys, and they may seek civil remedies when this trust is betrayed. Legal malpractice can have catastrophic consequences for those seeking damages after suffering injury, loss or damage due to the negligent actions of another, but pursuing a legal malpractice case can be challenging. An attorney with experience in this area could assess a case of this type and explain the difference between a simple error of judgement and actionable negligence or dishonesty.

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