Judge Receives One-Year Stayed Suspension from Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court today issued a one-year stayed suspension for Fayette County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David B. Bender for neglecting a client’s personal-injury case.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel alleged that as Bender transitioned to becoming a judge in 2011, he “failed to settle the client’s claim or file suit before the statute-of-limitations deadline, and attempted to settle a potential malpractice claim against him without personally advising the client that the statute of limitations had run on the claim and that the client should seek the advice of independent counsel.”
The complaint also alleged that Bender comingled personal and client funds, although no evidence was presented that any client was harmed or lost any money as a result.
The parties agreed that Bender’s conduct violated four professional conduct rules and one judicial conduct rule.
The Supreme Court adopted the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline’s findings of fact and misconduct and the board’s recommendation that a one-year stayed suspension was appropriate.
According to the court’s 7-0 per curiam opinion, the board found many mitigating factors including Bender’s remorse, no prior disciplinary record, and cooperative attitude throughout the proceedings.
“Although the parties did not stipulate to any aggravating factors, the board found that Bender acted with a selfish motive by attempting to exonerate himself from his malpractice without fully disclosing it to his client or advising the client to seek independent counsel,” the opinion states.
The court based the sanction for Bender on the “comparable magnitude” of the sanction issued in Cleveland Bar Assn. v. Berk for neglecting a client’s legal matter.
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