Northfield Attorney Disbarred
In a 7-0 decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio permanently disbarred attorney Peter F. Fletcher of Northfield for continuing to practice law while his license was under suspension.
The court noted that Fletcher was found guilty of disciplinary rule violations in 2009 for misuse of funds in his client trust account and providing improper financial assistance to a client. Although the original sanction imposed for those violations was a fully-stayed six month license suspension, the court revoked the stay and imposed an actual six-month suspension from practice in September 2010 when it found Fletcher in contempt for failing to pay the costs of the 2009 disciplinary proceedings.
Although he subsequently paid the delinquent costs and accrued interest, because Fletcher failed to file an affidavit of compliance required by the court’s September 2010 suspension order, and never filed an application for reinstatement of his license, his suspension has remained in effect.
In today’s decision, the court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that following his September 2010 suspension from practice, Fletcher failed to advise his clients, opposing counsel or the courts of that suspension, and that from approximately November 2010 through February 2012, he continued to represent two existing clients and began to represent two additional clients. Fletcher admitted that during that period he identified himself to clients as an attorney, gave them legal advice, and appeared in court and filed documents on their behalf.
Among additional findings of misconduct supporting the board’s recommended sanction of disbarment, the court noted that Fletcher gave false testimony during a 2011 deposition swearing that he had not represented any clients during that year when in fact he had appeared at a plea hearing on behalf of a client in juvenile court just days earlier.
Noting that “disbarment is the presumptive sanction for continuing to practice law while under suspension,” and that Fletcher did not file objections to the disciplinary board’s recommendation, the court found that any mitigating factors present in the case were insufficient to justify a lesser penalty.
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2012-1695. Disciplinary Counsel v. Fletcher, Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-1510.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 11-071. Peter F. Fletcher, Attorney Registration No. 0030992, is permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio.
O’Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, O’Donnell, Lanzinger, Kennedy, French, and O’Neill, JJ., concur.
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