Assistant Prosecutor Suspended for One Year
The Ohio Supreme Court today suspended a former Butler County assistant prosecutor for one year because he ordered criminal charges that were not considered by the grand jury to be added to an indictment.
While the disciplinary board recommended that six months of the suspension be stayed, the Court in a 5-2 decision rejected the stay and imposed a full one-year suspension against Jason R. Phillabaum of Cincinnati.
Attorney Added Charges to Indictment
In December 2010, another assistant prosecutor submitted charges to a Butler County grand jury against a defendant accused of aggravated robbery and felonious assault. Assistant Prosecutor Phillabaum reviewed the indictment a week later and told a legal assistant to add gun specifications to it. The original prosecutor refused to sign the altered indictment, but Phillabaum signed it.
Based on his conduct, Phillabaum was indicted in May 2012 for forgery, dereliction of duty, tampering with records, interference with civil rights, and using a sham legal process. He pled guilty to dereliction of duty. The court sentenced him to 90 days of suspended jail time if he completed one year of community control and did 75 hours of community service. Phillabaum has complied with this sentence.
Court Increases Punishment
The attorney disciplinary board determined that Phillabaum also violated four professional conduct rules, including one prohibiting lawyers from lying to a tribunal and another that bars conduct that harms the administration of justice.
In a per curiam opinion, the Court adopted the board’s factual findings and determination of misconduct. However, the Court instead concluded that a suspension for a full year was appropriate.
Joining the majority were Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, and William M. O’Neill.
Justices Paul E. Pfeifer and Judith L. French dissented and would have imposed the board-recommended suspension of one year with six months stayed.
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