Submitted February 6, 2013
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court, No. 11-112.
Jonathan E. Coughlan, Disciplinary Counsel, and Stacey Solochek Beckman, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
Mattheuw William Oberholtzer, pro se.
(¶ 1} Respondent, Mattheuw William Oberholtzer of Canton, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0041239, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1989.
(¶ 2} In a December 5, 2011 complaint, relator, disciplinary counsel, charged Oberholtzer with two counts of professional misconduct, based on his client neglect in two family-law matters. Specifically, Oberholtzer was charged with misconduct relating to his (1) representation of David and Brenda Ward in a custody dispute, (2) representation of Carmen Nantwi in a child-support dispute, and (3) failure to cooperate with the investigation of both matters by the relator. (Disciplinary counsel also charged a third count of misconduct, but later withdrew that count.)
(¶ 3} The parties stipulated that Oberholtzer's representation of the Wards (Count I) violated ProfCond.R. 1.3 (requiring a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence in representing a client), 1.4(a)(3) (requiring a lawyer to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter), 1.15(c) (requiring a lawyer to deposit advance legal fees and expenses into a client trust account, to be withdrawn by the lawyer only as fees are earned or expenses incurred), 8.4(d) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice), and 8.4(h) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice law).
(¶ 4} They also stipulated that Oberholtzer's representation of Nantwi (Count II) violated ProfCond.R. 1.3, 1.4(a)(4) (requiring a lawyer to comply as soon as practicable with reasonable requests for information from the client), 8.4(d), and 8.4(h).
(¶ 5} Finally, because Oberholtzer was nonresponsive and failed to cooperate with relator's investigation of both matters, the parties stipulated to violations of Prof Cond.R. 8.1(b) (prohibiting a lawyer from knowingly failing to respond to a demand for information by a disciplinary authority during an investigation), 8.4(d), and 8.4(h) and Gov.Bar R. V(4)(G) (prohibiting a lawyer from neglecting or refusing to assist in a disciplinary investigation).
(¶ 6} After a hearing, a panel of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline accepted all but one of the stipulations. The panel recommended dismissing the charged trust-account violation, Prof.Cond.R. 1.15(c), because it found "no evidence, whether in the record or adduced at hearing, * * * to substantiate the charge."
(¶ 7} The board adopted the panel's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation. Consistent with the stipulations and panel recommendations, the board recommends that we suspend Oberholtzer from the practice of law for 12 months, with the entire suspension stayed on two conditions: (1) Oberholtzer must fully cooperate with a monitoring attorney, appointed by disciplinary counsel, for the entire period of suspension, and (2) he must complete a three-hour continuing-legal-education course on law-office management. Neither party filed objections to the board's report.
(¶ 8} For the reasons that follow, we adopt the board's findings of fact and agree that a 12-month suspension, stayed on the two specified conditions, is the ...