North Canton Attorney Suspended for Mishandling 20 Bankruptcy Cases
The Ohio Supreme Court today suspended Deborah M. Marinelli of North Canton for two years, with one year stayed, for abandoning personal bankruptcy matters for 20 clients in late 2012 and in 2013.
Many of the clients had paid a bankruptcy filing fee and some or all of Marinelli’s retainer. But after her husband began divorce proceedings, Marinelli stopped communicating with clients. She also ceased paying her office rent and going to work at the office. Her office landlord sent her an eviction notice In March 2013, and the Stark County Bar Association took possession of her client files. She later paid full refunds to the 20 clients at a disciplinary hearing.
The attorney disciplinary board in the state found that Marinelli violated six professional conduct rules, including ones requiring competent representation and reasonable diligence. The board noted that Marinelli held onto her clients’ funds for several years while providing little in legal services to them and that she had not started counseling for her depression. The board also pointed out that she failed to answer multiple grievances filed against her by the bar association.
In a unanimous per curiam decision, the court adopted the board’s factual findings and legal conclusions. The second year of Marinelli’s suspension will be stayed if she meets specific conditions set out by the court, including treatment for her depression and following the recommendations of mental health professionals. If she abides by the conditions and is reinstated to practice law, she will be subject to two years of monitored probation.
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