Submitted November 21, 2017
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2016-033.
Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook & Batista Co. and Daniel A.
Cook; Trigilio & Stephenson, P.L.L., and Richard Mellott
Jr., Bar Counsel, for relator.
Gallagher Sharp, L.L.P., Timothy T. Brick, and Kevin R.
Marchaza, for respondent.
1} Respondent, Kenneth James Lewis, of Cleveland,
Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0073002, was admitted to the
practice of law in Ohio in 2000. In 2009, we suspended him
for one year after finding that he had forged a judge's
signature on a previously time-stamped judgment entry.
Medina Cty. Bar Assn. v. Lewis, 121 Ohio St.3d 596,
2009-Ohio-1765, 906 N.E.2d 1102.
2} In April 2017, relator, Lorain County Bar
Association, charged Lewis with violating multiple
professional-conduct rules for, among other things, giving a
false written witness statement about an alcohol-related
traffic incident. Lewis stipulated to some, but not all, of
the charged misconduct, and the matter proceeded to a hearing
before a three-member panel of the Board of Professional
Conduct. The panel found that Lewis engaged in the stipulated
misconduct, dismissed all other counts against him, and
recommended that we suspend him for two years, with the final
six months stayed on conditions. The board issued a report
adopting the panel's findings and recommended sanction,
and neither party has objected to the board's report.
3} Based on our review of the record, we adopt the
board's findings of misconduct and recommended sanction.
4} At around 1:00 a.m. on June 8, 2016, Lewis and
another attorney, Heather Wilsey, left a bar in Elyria, Ohio,
and entered Lewis's car. According to Lewis, they were
both intoxicated and Wilsey was driving. Wilsey lost control
of the car, and it struck a utility pole and ended up in a
tree lawn on the other side of the street, rendering the
vehicle inoperable. Shortly after the accident, an Elyria
police officer observed Lewis and Wilsey walking away from
the scene and stopped them for questioning.
5} At Lewis's disciplinary hearing, two Elyria
police officers testified that during their questioning of
Lewis and Wilsey at the scene, Lewis told them that an
unknown African American man had been driving the car at the
time of the accident and that Lewis and Wilsey were only
passengers in the vehicle. Lewis testified, however, that it
was Wilsey-not him-who had told the officers that another man
had been driving the car and that he had merely confirmed her
story by telling an officer "that it happened just like
she said it did." Regardless, Lewis admitted that the
following day, he submitted a false written witness statement
to the police. Specifically, Lewis affirmatively declared in
his written statement that on the night of the accident, he
had given his car keys to an unknown man who agreed to drive
Lewis and Wilsey to her home, that the unknown man crashed
Lewis's car, that Lewis sat in the back seat and Wilsey
sat in the passenger seat, and that the man left the scene
after the accident. According to Lewis, he made the false
statements to protect Wilsey, with whom he had recently begun
a romantic relationship.
6} The police, however, had obtained a video
recording from the bar showing that Lewis and Wilsey had left
the establishment by themselves just prior to the accident,
with Wilsey driving. Therefore, immediately after Lewis gave
the false written statement at the Elyria police station, the
police arrested him for obstructing official business, a
second-degree misdemeanor. Relator subsequently opened a
disciplinary investigation regarding the pending charge.
7} On September 12, 2016-during the pendency of the
Elyria case and this disciplinary matter-Lewis and Wilsey
were involved in another alcohol-related traffic incident,
and an officer with the Brunswick Hills police department
arrested Lewis for operating a motor vehicle while under the
influence of alcohol ("OVI"). Four days later, on
September 16, Lewis appeared in Medina Municipal Court and
entered a no-contest plea to the OVI charge. The court found
him guilty, suspended his driver's license, and imposed a
fine. Lewis did not voluntarily disclose his OVI conviction
to relator, although relator later learned of the conviction
from another source.
8} On September 20, 2016-just four days after
Lewis's OVI conviction in the Medina court-he appeared in
Elyria Municipal Court and entered a no-contest plea to the
charge of obstructing official business. The court found him
guilty and later sentenced him to 90 days in jail with 80
days suspended and imposed a one-year term of ...