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Disciplinary Counsel v. Goebl

Supreme Court of Ohio

January 2, 2018

Disciplinary Counsel
v.
Goebl.

          Submitted September 13, 2017

         On Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2016-054.

          Scott J. Drexel, Disciplinary Counsel, and Jennifer A. Bondurant, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.

          Donald R. Hicks, for respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} Respondent, Michael Joseph Goebl, of Akron, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0080489, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2006.

         {¶ 2} On November 4, 2016, relator, disciplinary counsel, filed a complaint against Goebl with the Board of Professional Conduct. Relator alleged that Goebl violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.1(b) by knowingly failing to respond to demands for information and that he violated Gov.Bar R. V(9)(G) by neglecting or refusing to assist in relator's investigation of the allegations in the complaint. The parties entered into stipulations of fact, misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors and proposed a sanction consisting of a six-month suspension, fully stayed on conditions.

         {¶ 3} Based on the parties' stipulations, a panel of the board found by clear and convincing evidence that Goebl committed the charged violations and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for six months with the suspension fully stayed on conditions. The board adopted the panel's findings and recommendation and further recommended that Goebl be ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings. We adopt the board's report in its entirety and suspend Goebl from the practice of law for six months, fully stayed on conditions.

         Misconduct

         {¶ 4} Goebl's misconduct is solely the result of his failure to cooperate with relator's investigation of the overdraft of his Interest on Lawyer's Trust Account ("IOLTA"), following the theft and fraudulent issuance of his IOLTA checks by a third party. On January 6, 2016, relator sent a letter of inquiry to Goebl inquiring about the overdraft of his IOLTA. Goebl timely replied to the letter; however, his response did not include most of the information requested. He later advised relator that he would send additional responsive information within ten days, but he failed to do so. And he failed to respond to multiple voicemail messages left for him by relator.

         {¶ 5} On April 28, 2016, relator sent Goebl a letter requesting that he immediately provide the information requested in the January 6, 2016 letter. Although relator sent the letter by e-mail and regular first-class U.S. Mail to the addresses that Goebl had provided to the Office of Attorney Services, Goebl did not respond to those communications or a follow-up letter sent by certified mail in June 2016.

         {¶ 6} On July 20, 2016, relator sent Goebl a subpoena duces tecum compelling his attendance at a deposition on August 18, 2016. Although Goebel never notified relator that he either would be unable or did not intend to appear, he failed to appear for the deposition and failed to respond to a voicemail message inquiring about his whereabouts. Relator personally delivered a subpoena duces tecum to Goebl at his place of employment compelling his attendance at a second attempted deposition on September 27, 2016. But again Goebl failed to appear or respond in any respect.

         {¶ 7} In January 2017, Goebl was evaluated by Jann K. Miller, Ph.D., and diagnosed with adjustment disorder with anxiety. He appeared at relator's office for a deposition in April 2017 and has since cooperated with relator's investigation of the overdraft of his IOLTA account.

         {¶ 8} The parties stipulated and the board found by clear and convincing evidence that Goebl's conduct violated Prof.Cond.R. 8.1(b) (failure to respond to demands for information by relator) and Gov.Bar R. V(9)(G) (neglecting or refusing to assist in ...


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