Columbus Attorney Indefinitely Suspended
The Ohio Supreme Court today imposed an indefinite suspension against the law license of Columbus attorney Charles McGowan for professional misconduct arising from his felony convictions for conspiracy to commit money laundering and willful failure to report the receipt of more than $10,000 in the course of his law practice.
The court also found that McGowan, whose license has been under an interim suspension since December 2010 as a result of his felony convictions, was guilty of additional disciplinary rule violations in his handling of two client matters unrelated to the money laundering conviction, and by virtue of his failure to cooperate with the Columbus Bar Association’s investigation of his misconduct.
By a 4-3 vote, the court overruled a recommendation by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that McGowan receive credit against today’s license suspension for the time he has been barred from practice under his 2010 interim suspension. Citing the aggravating factors that McGowan engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving multiple offenses, initially failed to cooperate in the disciplinary process, and caused harm to vulnerable clients, the court ordered that his indefinite suspension be served from the date of today’s decision, which means the earliest date he would be eligible to apply for reinstatement is April 16, 2015.
As preconditions for any future reinstatement of his license, the court specified that McGowan must complete the remaining term of federal supervised release included in his criminal sentence, make restitution of unearned fees to the clients whose cases he mishandled, reimburse the state Clients’ Security Fund for any claims it has paid to his clients, and pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings resulting in today’s decision.
The court’s per curiam majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy and Judith L. French. Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell and William M. O’Neill dissented, indicating that they would grant McGowan credit toward the suspension imposed today for the time his license has been under interim suspension.
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2012-1692. Columbus Bar Assn. v. McGowan, Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-1470.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 11-002. Charles McGowan, Attorney Registration No. 0066471, is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Ohio.
O’Connor, C.J., and Lanzinger, Kennedy, and French, JJ., concur.
Pfeifer, O’Donnell, and O’Neill, JJ., dissent and would grant McGowan credit for time served under his interim felony suspension.
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