Submitted April 9, 2013
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court, No. 11-070.
Jonathan E. Coughlan, Disciplinary Counsel, and Heather Hissom Coglianese, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
Edward Royal Bunstine, pro se.
(¶ 1} Respondent, Edward Royal Bunstine of Chillicothe, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0030127, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1981.
(¶ 2} In a complaint filed on August 15, 2011, relator, disciplinary counsel, charged Bunstine with professional misconduct for soliciting a client. The complaint alleged that Bunstine offered to make "other arrangements" for Ashley Holdren to pay his fee in a child-custody matter. During a meeting at his office, Bunstine told Holdren he would come to her home that afternoon and that she should answer the door naked. Holdren believed that Bunstine wanted to have sex with her. Less than one hour after Holdren left the meeting, Bunstine called her cell phone. Holdren told Bunstine not to come to her home, but he did anyway.
(¶ 3} After a hearing, a panel of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline found that Bunstine's conduct violated Prof Cond.R. 1.8(j) (prohibiting a lawyer from soliciting or engaging in sexual activity with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed when the client-lawyer relationship commenced) and 8.4(h) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice law). The panel declined to find a violation of Prof Cond.R. 8.4(d) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice).
(¶ 4} The board adopted the panel's findings of fact and conclusions of law and recommends that we suspend Bunstine from the practice of law for one year, with six months stayed. Bunstine filed objections challenging all but a few of the board's factual findings, both of its findings of misconduct, the aggravating and mitigating factors found, and the recommended sanction.
(¶ 5} For the reasons that follow, we overrule Bunstine's objections, adopt the board's findings of fact and misconduct, and suspend Bunstine from the practice of law for one year, with six months stayed.
Factual Findings of the Panel and the Board
(¶ 6} Based on evidence adduced at the panel hearing, the panel and board found the following facts relating to Bunstine's charged misconduct.
(¶ 7} On January 7, 2010, a court granted companionship of Ashley Holdren's two children to the children's biological father, William Scott. On January 19, 2010, Holdren retained Bunstine to seek relief from that judgment. Bunstine promptly filed a motion for a new trial or relief from judgment. Later he filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction because Scott had improperly filed the action in Ross County, rather than ...