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Cincinnati Bar Association v. Weber

Supreme Court of Ohio

December 28, 2017

Cincinnati Bar Association
v.
Weber

          Submitted September 13, 2017

         On Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2016-057.

          Rosemary D. Welsh, Amy S. Crotty, and Edwin W. Patterson III, Bar Counsel, for relator.

          John P. Weber, pro se.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} Respondent, John Patrick Weber, last known business address in Cincinnati, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0076164, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2003. On December 10, 2015, we suspended his license for failing to comply with the continuing-legal-education ("CLE") requirements of Gov.Bar R. X. We reinstated him on January 25, 2016. In re Weber, 144 Ohio St.3d 1466, 2016-Ohio-240, 44 N.E.3d 293.

         {¶ 2} In November 2016, relator, Cincinnati Bar Association, charged Weber with practicing law during his CLE suspension and other professional misconduct. Weber initially participated in the disciplinary process by meeting with relator, appearing for a deposition, and answering the original complaint. However, he failed to appear for his disciplinary hearing. The Board of Professional Conduct concluded that he engaged in the charged misconduct and recommends that we suspend him for two years, with the second year stayed on conditions. Neither party has objected to the board's recommendation.

         {¶ 3} Based on our review of the record, we adopt the board's findings of misconduct and recommended sanction.

         Misconduct

         Count I-Practicing while under a CLE suspension

         {¶ 4} As noted above, we suspended Weber on December 10, 2015, for failing to complete his required number of CLE hours. This court sent notice of the suspension to the address that Weber had registered with the Office of Attorney Services. Weber, however, had moved in 2011 and had failed to advise the court of his new address.

         {¶ 5} During his disciplinary proceedings, Weber admitted that in early January 2016-while he was under suspension but before receiving notice of the suspension-he had represented multiple clients in Hamilton County courts. Based on this conduct, the board found that by failing to notify the Office of Attorney Services of changes to his contact information, he violated Gov.Bar R. VI(4)(B) (requiring attorneys to notify the Office of Attorney Services of any change in the information recorded on their certificates of registration) and that by representing clients while under suspension, he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, see Gov.Bar R. VII(2)(A)(3)(d) (defining the unauthorized practice of law as rendering legal services for another by any person admitted to the practice of law in Ohio while the person is suspended for failure to satisfy CLE requirements); Gov.Bar R. VII(2)(A)(4) (defining the unauthorized practice of law as the holding out to the public or otherwise representing oneself as authorized to practice law in Ohio by a person not so authorized); Prof.Cond.R. 5.5(a) (prohibiting a lawyer from practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction).

         Count II-Client-trust-account violations

         {¶ 6} At Weber's deposition, he testified that he had closed his client trust account in 2013. However, at Weber's disciplinary hearing, relator submitted evidence showing that Weber's trust account had, in fact, remained open, with a running balance of $312.30. Relator also submitted evidence showing that when Weber registered for the 2015-2017 biennium, he failed to report the existence of the trust account and instead indicated that he was not required to maintain such an account. And one of relator's investigators testified that during the disciplinary process, Weber admitted that he had (1) received flat fees from the clients that he had represented while under his CLE ...


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