Two Attorneys Suspended Indefinitely from Practicing Law
The Ohio Supreme Court today ordered the indefinite suspensions of two Cincinnati attorneys in unrelated cases. Both lawyers are currently serving interim suspensions, but the Supreme Court ruled that the time they have served so far will not count toward their indefinite suspensions.
Attorney Gave Money to Witness on Other Side
While representing a client in 2013 who had been charged with murder, Gregory A. Cohen paid a prosecution witness to leave the state. The witness told police, and Cohen pled guilty to attempted tampering with evidence and attempted obstruction of justice – both felonies. He was sentenced to 60 days of monitored house arrest, 3 years of community control, 500 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine.
Because of his felony convictions, the Supreme Court suspended Cohen for an interim period on February 12, 2014. The disciplinary counsel investigated, and the parties agreed to certain facts and rule violations, and proposed an indefinite suspension with credit for the time Cohen has served since the interim felony suspension. The state disciplinary board accepted the findings and recommended the proposed punishment to the court.
In a 5-2 per curiam decision, the court agreed that Cohen violated three professional conduct rules. However, noting the attorney’s attempt “to thwart the administration of justice,” the court stated that “the seriousness of [Cohen’s] misconduct cannot be overstated.” The court indefinitely suspended Cohen, but declined to give him credit for the suspension that began in February 2014. He will be permitted to apply for reinstatement to practice law in two years.
The court’s majority included Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Judith L. French. Justices Judith Ann Lanzinger and William O’Neill would have granted credit to Cohen for the time served during the interim suspension.
Lawyer Did Not Keep Proper Records and Lied
In December 2012, Sharri U. Rammelsberg did not respond to a complaint that the disciplinary counsel filed against her. Given her lack of response, the Supreme Court suspended her from practicing law for an interim period on March 22, 2013. When the court issued an order for her to show cause why that suspension should not be converted into an indefinite suspension, Rammelsberg objected.
After discussions with disciplinary counsel, Rammelsberg now agrees that she overdrew her client trust account twice, lied to investigators about the management of her trust accounts, and failed to keep detailed records of the client funds entrusted to her as required by the professional conduct rules. In addition, Rammelsberg conceded that she failed to fully cooperate in the disciplinary process when she neglected to turn over certain requested records, did not show up for two of three scheduled depositions, and failed to respond to various inquiries during the disciplinary proceedings. She admits that her conduct violated six rules governing the practice of law in Ohio.
In unanimously imposing an indefinite suspension, the court’s per curiam opinion explained that before Rammelsberg may seek reinstatement, she must provide the requested documents to the disciplinary counsel and fully comply with treatment recommended by the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program and her mental health professionals. While the disciplinary board had recommended that Rammelsberg be given credit for the time served during her interim default suspension, the court decided not to grant that credit. She will have to wait at least two years to apply for reinstatement to practice law.
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