Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Disciplinary Counsel v. Schnittke

Supreme Court of Ohio

December 28, 2017

Disciplinary Counsel
v.
Schnittke.

          Submitted August 29, 2017

         On Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2015-075.

          Scott J. Drexel, Disciplinary Counsel, and Audrey E. Varwig, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.

          Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter Co., L.P.A., Christopher J. Weber, and Jason H. Beehler, for respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} Respondent, Steven Powell Schnittke of New Lexington, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0025537, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1975.

         {¶ 2} In a complaint certified to the Board of Professional Conduct on December 10, 2015, relator, disciplinary counsel, alleged that Schnittke committed multiple ethical violations by failing to file briefs in three criminal cases in which he was appointed to serve as appellate counsel.[1] The parties submitted stipulations of facts, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors. They also agreed to dismiss three alleged violations and jointly recommended that Schnittke be suspended from the practice of law for six months with the entire suspension stayed. The panel of the board appointed to hear the matter granted the parties' motion to waive the hearing and adopted their stipulations, but it rejected the parties' stipulated sanction in favor of a public reprimand. The board agreed, but in December 2016, we remanded the matter to the board for further proceedings-including the consideration of a more severe sanction. Disciplinary Counsel v. Schnittke, 147 Ohio St.3d 1461, 2016-Ohio-8162, 65 N.E.3d 767.

         {¶ 3} On remand, the parties supplemented their stipulations with three letters attesting to Schnittke's good character, community leadership, and dedication to the practice of law in Perry County. After hearing testimony from Schnittke and two character witnesses, the panel adopted the parties' stipulations, made additional findings of fact, and recommended that Schnittke be suspended from the practice of law for six months, all stayed, which the board adopted. We adopt the board's findings of fact and conclusions of law and suspend Schnittke from the practice of law for six months, all stayed on the condition that he engage in no further misconduct.

         Misconduct

         {¶ 4} The parties have stipulated that Schnittke was appointed to represent three defendants in appeals from their criminal convictions in May 2005, May 2007, and June 2012. In the 2005 case, he filed a notice of appeal and docketing statement, requested and reviewed the transcript of the client's sentencing hearing, and advised the client that he saw no basis for an appeal, but he did no additional work. In the 2007 case, Schnittke sent the client two letters, one of which advised the client that he had been appointed to the case and had reviewed the client's file, but he failed to do anything more. And in the 2012 case, he failed to respond to the client's letters and performed no work on the client's behalf. Each of the appeals was dismissed for want of prosecution because Schnittke failed to file appellate briefs. Schnittke did not withdraw from any of these representations, nor did he submit applications for fees.

         {¶ 5} One of the affected clients successfully moved the court to reopen his appeal and filed an appellate brief, pro se. After the client filed his brief, Schnittke sent him a letter regarding the strategy for the appeal and suggested a case on which the client might rely. Although the letter indicated that Schnittke would perform research and provide additional thoughts to assist the client, he never did.

         {¶ 6} The panel adopted the parties' stipulations that Schnittke's conduct in the 2005 case violated DR 6-101(A)(3) (prohibiting neglect of an entrusted legal matter); that his conduct in the 2007 case violated Prof.Cond.R. 1.3 (requiring a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence in representing a client) and 1.4(a)(3) (requiring a lawyer to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter); and that his conduct in the 2012 case violated Prof.Cond.R. 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4) (requiring a lawyer to comply as soon as practicable with reasonable requests for information from the client), and 8.4(d) (prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice).

         Sanction

         {¶ 7} When imposing sanctions for attorney misconduct, we consider several relevant factors, including the ethical duties that the lawyer violated, relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.