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Ohio State Bar Association v. Jacob

Supreme Court of Ohio

May 10, 2017

Ohio State Bar Association
v.
Jacob.

          Submitted February 8, 2017

         On Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2015-019.

          Plunkett Cooney and Amelia A. Bower; and Eugene P. Whetzel, Bar Counsel, for relator.

          Murman & Associates and Michael E. Murman, for respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} Respondent, Harry Joseph Jacob III, of Solon, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0008620, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1981. Jacob served as a Bedford Municipal Court judge from 2010 until he resigned in October 2014 after he was found guilty of soliciting prostitution and falsifying a court record.

         {¶ 2} In March 2016, relator, the Ohio State Bar Association, filed an amended complaint against Jacob charging him with judicial and professional misconduct for the activities that led to his criminal convictions. Jacob stipulated to most, but not all, of the allegations against him, and the matter proceeded to a hearing before a three-member panel of the Board of Professional Conduct. The board issued a report finding that Jacob engaged in the charged misconduct and recommending that we sanction him with a two-year suspension, with the second year stayed. Neither party has objected to the board's report and recommendation.

         {¶ 3} Based upon our review of the record, we accept the board's findings of misconduct and agree with its recommended sanction.

         Misconduct

         {¶ 4} In April 2014, a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Jacob-while he was serving as a municipal court judge-on 21 counts of criminal conduct, ranging from felony tampering-with-evidence and promoting-prostitution charges to misdemeanor solicitation and falsification offenses. In September 2014, after a five-day bench trial, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas found him guilty of five misdemeanors: three counts of solicitation under R.C. 2907.24(A)(1), one count of falsification under R.C. 2921.13(A)(11), and one count of falsification under R.C. 2921.13(A)(13). As to the remaining charges, the court either acquitted Jacob or ordered the charges dismissed. After his convictions but before appearing for his sentencing, Jacob resigned from the bench. In October 2014, the court sentenced him to serve a total of 60 days in jail, pay $2, 500 in fines, complete a two-year term of probation, and submit to six months of home monitoring upon his release from jail. He immediately served his jail time, paid his fine, and later successfully completed probation and home monitoring.

         {¶ 5} In November 2015, the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirmed Jacob's convictions. See State v. Jacob, 2015-Ohio-4760, 50 N.E.3d 279 (8th Dist.) The court found that there was "sufficient and substantial evidence that Jacob solicited at least three women to engage in sexual activity for hire." Id. at ¶ 20. In describing the evidence against Jacob, the court noted that he had first responded to an advertisement in which a woman offered massages, but after they met in person, the massages evolved into sex for money. Jacob continued to request the woman's services and met her at various hotels across the state. He later engaged in three-way sexual acts with the woman and a second prostitute, asked the second prostitute to engage in individual sexual acts with him, and also solicited prostitution services from a third woman. Id. at ¶ 3-5.

         {¶ 6} The Eighth District also described the evidence supporting Jacob's falsification convictions, which arose from an unrelated case pending on his municipal court docket. As explained by the court of appeals, a defendant, David Holt, made an unscheduled appearance before Jacob and requested to plead guilty to a pending domestic-violence charge. Jacob informed Holt that a domestic-violence conviction would prevent him from owning a firearm and result in other collateral consequences. Jacob then sua sponte reduced the domestic-violence charge to disorderly conduct and found Holt guilty of the amended charge. Jacob never read Holt his rights, asked him if he had consulted with an attorney, or heard from the alleged victim. Further, Jacob amended the charge without the city prosecutor's presence or consent, and he signed and journalized an entry that falsely indicated that the prosecutor had authorized the change. Id. at ¶ 6-10, 22-24.

         {¶ 7} In his appeal of the falsification convictions, Jacob admitted that he had signed an inaccurate entry but argued that he did not actually know that the entry was false because he had merely signed a boilerplate form. Id. at ¶ 10, 22, 24. The Eighth District, however, "emphatically reject[ed] this claim, " concluding,

The facts establish that he was fully aware of his duplicitous actions and tried to hide them. Jacob knew that the journal entry was false because he was the one who changed it; he changed the entry to make it appear that the prosecutor authorized the amendment to the original charge, and then he signed off on the entry. This clearly demonstrates ...

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