Submitted August 6, 2019
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2018-059.
M. Caligiuri, Disciplinary Counsel, and Michelle R. Bowman,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
James Walden, pro se.
1} Respondent, Derek James Walden, of Columbus,
Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0083730, was admitted to the
practice of law in Ohio in 2008. On November 3, 2015, we
suspended Walden's license for his failure to register
for the 2015-2017 biennium, but we reinstated it the next
day. In re Attorney Registration Suspension of
Walden, 143 Ohio St.3d 1509, 2015-Ohio-4567, 39 N.E.3d
1277; In re Reinstatement of Walden, 144
Ohio St.3d 1432, 2015-Ohio-5363, 42 N.E.3d 766. On April 4,
2017, Walden registered his license as inactive.
2} In a complaint filed with the Board of
Professional Conduct on November 26, 2018, relator,
disciplinary counsel, alleged that Walden neglected three
client matters, failed to reasonably communicate with the
affected clients, made false statements to the tribunal in
one of those matters, and failed to cooperate in the ensuing
disciplinary investigations. Walden answered the complaint
and later entered into stipulations of fact, misconduct, and
aggravating and mitigating factors. He also testified at a
hearing before a panel of the board.
3} The board issued a report that largely adopted
the parties' stipulations and recommends that Walden be
suspended from the practice of law for two years with 18
months stayed. No objections have been filed.
4} We accept the board's findings of misconduct
and impose a two-year suspension, with the final 18 months
5} Walden had an "of counsel" relationship
with Dorman Law, L.L.C., in 2013 and 2014. During
Walden's tenure at the firm, he represented Gail
Harper-Perry and Perry Lewis, who had retained the firm to
pursue personal-injury claims, and Cynthia Cooper, who had
retained the firm to pursue a dental-malpractice claim. When
Walden left the firm in October 2014, all three clients opted
to follow him to his new firm, Walden Law, L.L.C.
6} Walden filed complaints on behalf of all three
clients, but he subsequently failed to respond to their calls
and e-mails and never told Lewis that he had commenced his
7} Because Walden failed to respond to discovery
requests, defense counsel in two of the three cases filed
motions to compel. In Harper-Perry's case, Walden failed
to respond to the defendant's motion, failed to comply
with the court's order compelling discovery, and failed
to respond to the defendant's subsequent motion to
dismiss the complaint. Citing Walden's failure to comply
with court orders and to prosecute Harper-Perry's case,
the court dismissed the complaint without prejudice.
8} Walden appeared at a status conference in
Lewis's case and explained that he had just recently
located his client and that they would work together to
resolve the outstanding discovery issues. The court therefore
denied the defendant's motion to compel and extended
discovery deadlines. After a second motion to compel was
filed, Walden appeared at another status conference and
provided incomplete discovery responses. He falsely told the
court that Lewis had not been forthcoming with
information-when in reality, he had failed to maintain
contact with his client-and he said that he would work with
Lewis to supplement the responses. Although the court granted