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Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017

State ex rel. Keith J. Kerns et al. v. Richard J. Simmers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources et al., Case no. 2016-1011
Harrison County

State of Ohio v. Deandre Gordon, Case no. 2016-1462
Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County)

Ohio State Bar Association v. Lance T. Mason, Case no. 2017-0794
Cuyahoga County


Is State Order Permitting Oil and Gas Drilling a ‘Taking’?

State ex rel. Keith J. Kerns et al. v. Richard J. Simmers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources et al., Case no. 2016-1011
Harrison County

ISSUES:

  • If a landowner objects to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources unitization order permitting oil and gas to be drilled underneath the landowner’s property, is that order a “taking” under the U.S. and Ohio constitutions?
  • Can a landowner objecting to a unitization order seek a writ of mandamus to halt the order, or must the landowner file a lawsuit challenging the order in common pleas court?

OVERVIEW
The case addresses whether portions of the law adopted by Ohio in the 1960s to control the exploration of oil and gas apply in the new era of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) maintains that Revised Code Chapter 1509 was initiated in reaction to an “oil boom” in the mid-1960s that resulted in neighbors rushing to set up oil rigs and drill because prior law allowed the first driller to remove all the oil that was in an underground reservoir below many neighboring properties. R.C.  Chapter 1509 established laws that allowed the state to set minimum spacing requirements between wells for safety purposes, and required the landowners to split the proceeds of the oil and gas brought up from below.

The state argues the law in place for the past 50 years applies to fracking, which goes much deeper into the ground than traditional oil and gas drilling and requires much larger tracts of lands to be economically feasible. The landowners contend that fracking isn’t the same as the 1960s’ circumstances because the oil and gas deep below in shale formations doesn’t naturally pool together in a reservoir, and the state can’t apply the current law to fracking.

BACKGROUND:
Keith Kerns and six others collectively own 120 acres in Harrison County and own the oil and gas rights to the minerals in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation below it. In November 2014, Chesapeake Exploration LLC filed an application with the ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management to drill three horizontal wells into the Utica/Point Pleasant formation underneath 592 acres in Harrison County. The company wanted an order from ODNR to “unitize” the land, which was owned by several different people, to get the authority to drill under all of their properties. The company asked for the ODNR order because it didn’t have the consent of all the landowners to drill. Chesapeake maintained that if didn’t get the order to combine all the land into one unit, it would have to reduce the length of the wells, leaving 260 acres undeveloped. That would result in a “physical waste” of more than 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas that wouldn’t be collected through the wells.

The unitization process is described in R.C. 1509.28 and requires ODNR’s oil and gas resources division to conduct a hearing to consider the need for the unitization order. Kerns and the other owners of the 120 acres objected to their inclusion and didn’t want Chesapeake to drill underneath their land. They have leased the drilling rights to their land to another oil and gas company. However, they didn’t attend the hearing, but sent written objections.

Division Chief Richard Simmers issued the order, and by law, the order gives every landowner in the unit a one-eighth gross royalty from the recovered oil and gas with each landowner’s royalty based on the amount of surface acreage owned. The law requires the drilling company to pay the landowners regardless of whether or not they agreed to be in the unit.

Kerns appealed the order to unitize to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission. The commission denied the appeal. Kerns also attempted to block the ODNR order in federal court, but the case was dismissed.

Chesapeake proceeded to construct a drilling pad on property near the objecting landowners and began drilling wells. Kerns asserts that Chesapeake injected more than 8 million gallons for water, sand, and chemicals into the formation to release the natural gas, and some of the substance is under his property and can cause damage.

Kerns is seeking a writ of mandamus from the Ohio Supreme Court for additional compensation arguing that the unitization order violated his constitutional rights under the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. He argues the order violates the landowners’ rights to exclusive possession of their property and that their property was taken by the state without due process. He is asking the Court to declare that ODNR took the land for public use and that they must follow the state law’s procedure, which requires having a jury assess the compensation that must be paid for the alleged taking.

The ODNR countered that R.C. Chapter 1509 gives Kerns the option of appealing the oil and gas commission’s ruling to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus, and that it’s inappropriate for Kerns to request a Supreme Court order rather than proceeding through the process outlined in the law.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the matter at a special off-site court session in Washington County.

ODNR Took Private Land, Owners Assert
Kerns cites the Ohio Supreme Court’s 2002 State ex rel. Shemo v. Mayfield Heights decision, where the Court stated that private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and two provisions of the Ohio Constitution. He further notes that in the Court’s 2006 Norwood v. Horney decision, the Court applied the takings rule to government actions that delegate the authority to a private company to enter the landowners’ property. He notes that approving Chesapeake’s right to drill beneath their land to obtain oil and gas is a taking that requires compensation to the landowner.

Kerns maintains the traditional law and processes for compensating a landowner must be followed and that includes presenting the facts to a common pleas court jury, which would assess the value of the government taking and order the government agency to pay.

Kerns rejects the argument that R.C. Chapter 1509 and the laws establishing compensation for oil and gas drilling apply to fracking because the oil and gas extracted is different than shallow-well oil and gas. The parties in the case note that R.C. Chapter 1509 established shared rights for landowners whose property had oil and gas beneath it. Prior to the law, Ohio followed the “rule of capture” and the first to drill possessed the oil and gas even though it was contained in a reservoir that extended underneath several landowners’ properties. An “oil boom” in Morrow County in the 1960s led Ohio to follow other oil-drilling states in authorizing the state to police oil and gas drilling, which included requiring minimum spacing between wells. It required landowners split the proceeds from the drilling to minimize the number of wells drilled.

Kerns maintains those laws don’t apply in this case. Citing ODNR other experts in oil and gas drilling, Kerns notes that unlike oil and gas in a reservoir, the shale minerals must be blasted by the mixture of water, sand, and chemicals to free the oil and gas. Without the physical invasion of the property to blast out the oil and gas, the minerals wouldn’t simply migrate to an adjacent landowners’ property as would happen in a reservoir.

“Under the facts of this case, the rule of capture and doctrine of correlative rights do not supersede the property rights secured by the Takings Clauses,” Kerns brief states.

Writ of Mandamus Appropriate, Landowners Argue
Pointing to Shemo, the landowners maintain that a process to stop a government taking or be compensated for it must be “complete, beneficial, and speedy.” They argue the option of having to appeal the Oil and Gas Commission’s approval of the ODNR order doesn’t provide them with a speedy process. They maintain appealing to the common pleas court could be delayed because the court’s decision can be appealed again to higher courts. They also argue an appeal is limited because the common pleas court can only review what the commission determined was “just and reasonable” about the order. That doesn’t allow the court to determine if there was a taking and doesn’t give it the right to order a jury to determine the amount of compensation to be paid.

Unitization Orders Not Takings, State Counters
ODNR explains the traditional rule of capture led to unsafe drilling and waste as landowners rushed to drill wells to ensure they, and not their neighbors, benefitted the most from the gas and oil underneath. The state’s position is that all property owners possess equal rights to develop the oil and gas underneath their land, and that is referred to as “correlative rights.” The state imposed restrictions meant not only to safely extract the oil and gas but also to prevent a minority of neighboring landowners from preventing the majority to drill for oil and gas.

“As far as can be determined, every court to have considered the issue has held that States may constitutionally establish procedures governing the pooling and unitization of oil and gas resources. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the power of States to regulate the production of oil and gas generally. And state supreme courts have rejected constitutional challenges to statutory unitization and pooling procedures specifically,” the ODNR brief states.

ODNR argues the takings clauses are designed to protect private property exclusively possessed by property owner. However, oil and gas resides in a “common source” below many properties, and the landowners have only correlative rights to the common supply, ODNR maintains. Because they aren’t exclusive rights, the state has the right to regulate and control the development of the common source and distribute the proceeds to the landowners. ODNR argues that not only do the landowners not have exclusive rights under the common source theory, but also that the 120 acres is subject to a lease agreement with American-Energy Utica, a company that may contest the landowners’ rights to the oil and gas.

Unitization Applies to Fracking, State Maintains
ODNR notes that other oil-drilling states have applied their older pooling and unitization rules to new drilling processes, including an Arkansas Supreme Court decision in 2015 and North Dakota in 1997. The agency explains the “police power” granted to state government gives them the right to apply the unitization rules to new extraction methods, and it has the right to ensure neighboring property owners benefit from the production. ODNR notes the “objecting landowners” will receive royalties from the oil and gas that Chesapeake produces.

Because the unitization order isn’t a taking, the opponents must follow the appeals process in R.C. Chapter 1509, the state maintains. It argues a Supreme Court writ isn’t appropriate because Kerns has an “adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law” by going to common pleas court. The state also disputes Kerns’ claims that the common pleas court can’t consider the constitutional arguments. The state notes that a 2011 Ohio Supreme Court decision (State ex rel. Kingsley v. State Emp.  Relations Board) allows constitutional challenges when appealing the decisions of administrative agencies, like the oil and gas commission, to court.

Friend-of-Court Briefs
An amicus curiae brief supporting ODNR’s position has been submitted jointly by the Artex Energy Group LLC, Ascent Resources – Utica LLC, Carrizo (Utica) LLC, Enervest Operating LLC, Hess Ohio LLC, and Ohio Oil and Gas Association. Additionally, the American Petroleum Institute and Professor Bruce M. Kramer, a leading expert in oil and gas law, filed amicus briefs in support of the state’s position.

- Dan Trevas

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Contacts
Representing Keith J. Kerns et al.: Phillip Campanella, 440.655.1553

Representing Richard J. Simmers et al. from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office: Brian Becker, 614.265.7071

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Does Disqualification of Attorney Because He Was Potential Witness for Client’s Intimidation Case Require Retrial?

State of Ohio v. Deandre Gordon, Case no. 2016-1462
Eighth District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County)

ISSUE: Was the outcome of a trial affected when the court combined two indictments for one trial and disqualified the defendant’s counsel of choice?

BACKGROUND:
Tevaughn Darling and Deandre Gordon had been friends for more than 10 years. Darling thought of Gordon as his nephew. Darling celebrated his birthday on Jan. 9, 2015, with his girlfriend, Gordon, and others, and Gordon spent the weekend at Darling’s house.

The following Monday, Darling was shot in the foot and taken to the hospital. He first told Bedford Heights police he had been carjacked. He later told police in a video statement that Gordon shot him and he had lied initially to protect his friend. Darling said Gordon appeared from the bathroom at the house, pointed a handgun at Darling, and demanded money. When Darling indicated he thought Gordon was joking, Gordon shot him in the foot. Gordon took $5,000 from a dresser and $2,300 that Darling had in his pockets and fled. In the video, Darling told officers that Gordon might be found with his gang.

Defendant Hires Attorney, Then Charged with Intimidation
A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Gordon on counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and felonious assault, all with the possibility of additional prison time for having a weapon (referred to as “firearm specifications”).

Gordon hired an attorney, Aaron T. Baker, to represent him. In April 2015, Gordon was released until trial with GPS monitoring after paying bail. As part of discovery, the prosecutor provided Baker with a DVD of Darling’s video statement. Baker said he showed the video to Gordon on May 20. The next day the video appeared on the social network Instagram. The footage was edited in a way that indicated Darling was giving information to police about the gang.

Darling reported the Instagram video post to the police and the prosecutor, adding that he had received related threats. As Darling left the prosecutor’s office, he said he encountered Gordon and two other men sitting in a car, and they made threatening comments.

The prosecutor brought the incident to the court’s attention, and argued that the Instagram accounts belonged to individuals Gordon knew. The trial court revoked Gordon’s bail and issued a warrant for his arrest. The grand jury issued a second indictment against Gordon in June 2015 charging him with intimidation of a crime victim or witness. He hired Baker as his attorney for this case as well.

Attorney Expects to Handle Both Cases
Baker submitted a memo to the trial court, stating that he didn’t copy the video or give it to Gordon. The attorney noted that he planned to continue to represent Gordon, arguing that he wasn’t needed as a witness in the trial because his role related to the video was uncontested and he could stipulate to what happened instead of testifying.

On July 1, 2015, the trial court joined the two indictments together to consider the alleged crimes in one trial, and a week later disqualified Baker as Gordon’s attorney. The court agreed with the prosecutor that Baker was an essential witness to establish that he had shown Gordon the video, which was grounds to remove him as Gordon’s attorney.

With a different attorney, Gordon went to trial. The jury found him guilty of the robbery, kidnapping, assault, and weapons offenses, but concluded he wasn’t guilty of the intimidation charge. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Gordon appealed to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, which reversed Gordon’s convictions and ordered a retrial. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to consider the case. The appeal will be heard Oct. 18 in Marietta at a special off-site session of the Court.

Attorney Had Conflict of Interest, Prosecutor Argues
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to have the assistance of an attorney for their defense.

Pointing to U.S. Supreme Court and Ohio Supreme Court decisions, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor explains that the right to counsel isn’t absolute and isn’t unlimited. Based on a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a defendant doesn’t have the right to be represented by an attorney that the defendant can’t afford, an attorney unwilling to represent the defendant, an attorney with a conflict of interest, or a person who isn’t authorized to practice law, the prosecutor argues. The attorney in Gordon’s case had a conflict of interest, the prosecutor maintains, because he would have been acting both as an advocate and a witness at the trial.

To determine whether the trial court was wrong to disqualify Baker as Gordon’s attorney, the court reviewing the case must decide whether the trial court abused its discretion when evaluating the facts and the law related to the issue. Defendants don’t have to prove that the outcome of the trial would have been different (referred to as “prejudice”) had they had the attorney of their choice because this type of error affects the underlying structure of the trial. When a defendant is wrongly deprived of the right to counsel, the defendant’s conviction is automatically overturned, the prosecutor notes, citing the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Chambliss (2011).

However, the prosecutor contends, a defendant does have the burden to prove that the trial court made a mistake when it disqualified the defendant’s attorney. In the prosecutor’s view, no error occurred in this case because Gordon’s attorney had a conflict of interest. The prosecutor maintains that the person who had access to the video and posted it to Instagram were disputed, and Baker’s testimony incriminated his own client. It would have been unfair to both sides to have Baker both represent Gordon and take the stand in the trial, and it would have confused the jury, the prosecutor argues.

Even if the robbery and intimidation cases had been tried separately and Baker was disqualified from the intimidation case because of his knowledge, he still would have been a witness in the robbery case and would be a witness in a retrial, the prosecutor states. Gordon’s threats to Darling would have been presented at the robbery trial to show consciousness of guilt, and Baker was a necessary witness to establish how Gordon had access to Darling’s video statement, the prosecutor contends. Joining the two cases together for one trial (called “joinder”) was irrelevant to the disqualification issue, the prosecutor reasons.

“[N]ot only was the disqualification of Gordon’s counsel of choice proper, but he suffered no prejudice from the joinder of the two indictments where his retained counsel was a witness in both cases,” the prosecutor concludes.

Two Trials Would Have Protected Rights, Defendant Responds
Gordon counters that Baker had a possible conflict of interest only in the intimidation case, not both cases. Pointing to the prosecutor’s motion before trial to disqualify Baker, Gordon contends it alleged the attorney was a “material,” or essential, witness just in the intimidation case, not the robbery case. In addition, the Eighth District concluded that Baker was not a material witness in the robbery case, Gordon adds.

Although joining two indictments together for one trial is favored by the courts, it isn’t mandatory, Gordon indicates. When the trial court combined the cases, Gordon argues that his Sixth Amendment right to choose his own attorney was violated and he must be given a new trial.

His brief to the Court states that an Ohio rule for criminal proceedings (Crim.R. 14) requires courts to hold separate trials if combining the indictments for one trial prejudices the defendant or the state. Even if the trial court made a correct decision to remove Baker as Gordon’s attorney, holding one trial still was improper, Gordon maintains.

Gordon maintains that because he was deprived of his right to an attorney of his choosing he doesn’t have to prove that that the trial’s outcome would have been different if the court had held two trials. Deprivation of this constitutional right demands a retrial, he asserts, based on Chambliss and the U.S. Supreme Court decision relied on in Chambliss.

The trial court abused its discretion by needlessly removing Baker from the robbery case, Gordon stresses. He notes that he was acquitted of the intimidation charge, and also argues Baker didn’t need to testify.

“If the evidence that would be offered by having an opposing attorney testify can be elicited by other means, then the attorney is not a necessary witness,” his brief states.

Organizations Submit Briefs Supporting Defendant
Amicus curiae briefs supporting Gordon’s position have been submitted by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. The association argues that Baker wasn’t needed as a witness in either the robbery or the intimidation case because his communication with Gordon about the video was protected by attorney-client privilege. It asks the Court to uphold the Eighth District’s decision or to dismiss the case as improvidently accepted. The public defender adds that when weighing the right to chosen counsel against the benefits to the court of joining the charges into one trial, the right to a fair trial must prevail. Joinder isn’t a valid reason for denying defendants their right to an attorney of their choosing, the public defender argues.

- Kathleen Maloney

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Contacts
Representing the State of Ohio from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office: Christopher Schroeder, 216.443.7733

Representing Deandre Gordon: David Doughten, 216.361.1112

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Attorney Discipline

Ohio State Bar Association v. Lance T. Mason, Case no. 2017-0794
Cuyahoga County

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct recommends that former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Lance T. Mason be disbarred from practicing law in the state following a felony
conviction for assaulting his wife in August 2014. Mason argues for an indefinite suspension, which is a lesser punishment that offers the possibility of working again as an attorney.

Judge Becomes Violent in Vehicle
After more than eight years of marriage, Mason and his wife, Aisha Fraser, decided to separate in March 2014. Mason served as a judge on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court at the time. The couple have two children. After the separation, they shared custody of the young children and often spent time together, going on dates and to church.

On Aug. 2, 2014, Judge Mason, Fraser, and their children attended a funeral for the judge’s aunt. During the drive to Fraser’s home after the funeral, Judge Mason and Fraser discussed their relationship. With the children in the backseat, Judge Mason, who was driving, became upset and hit Fraser in the head; banged her head against the car window, armrest, and dashboard; and bit her on her face. Fraser tried to leave the car, and Judge Mason pulled her back. She eventually escaped the vehicle but fell, and Judge Mason stopped the car, located her, kept striking her, and bit her again.

Leaving Fraser on the road, Judge Mason returned to his vehicle and drove to his house with the children. He called his sister, asking her to pick up the children because he planned to shoot himself. Shaker Heights police arrested Judge Mason. Fraser was hospitalized and required surgery to repair a fracture under her eye.

When the judge was indicted, the Ohio Supreme Court disqualified him from his judicial position. On Sept. 16, 2015, the trial court accepted Mason’s guilty plea to attempted felonious assault and domestic violence, and sentenced him to a 24-month prison term and a 6-month jail term to be served concurrently. Mason was released on June 27, 2016.

Mason Violated Ethics Rules for Judges and Attorneys, Board Finds
The Ohio State Bar Association investigated charges against Mason alleging that he violated attorney and judicial ethical rules in the state. After considering the bar association’s complaint, reviewing the evidence, and conducting a hearing, a panel of the professional conduct board concluded that Mason violated the judicial conduct rule that requires judges to promote public confidence in the judiciary’s independence, integrity, and impartiality. The panel also found that Mason’s illegal act reflected poorly on his trustworthiness and his fitness to practice law.

The professional conduct board’s report to the Supreme Court lists the following mitigating factors, which may be considered for a less-severe sanction:

  • no prior disciplinary record
  • cooperative during disciplinary investigation
  • removed from his position as judge
  • incarcerated for his actions
  • penalized with a $150,000 settlementof a civil case Fraser filed against him
  • apologized to Fraser in open court during the civil case
  • submitted 37 character reference letters

The report also identifies several aggravating circumstances, which may be considered to impose a more severe punishment. The board notes the vulnerability of Mason’s former wife and his children and the harm Mason’s actions caused. Also, Mason didn’t adequately explain why he assaulted his wife; he hasn’t indicated that the violent conduct won’t happen again; and, although he has met with a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, and pastor, he “has not fully engaged in the redemptive process,” the report states. 

Board Proposes Disbarment
Noting that the Supreme Court holds judges to the highest ethical standards, the board recommends that the Supreme Court disbar Mason, which means he will never be permitted to practice law in Ohio again.

Mason, who has been a county prosecutor, state representative, and state senator, submitted objections to the board’s proposed punishment of disbarment. When one side in a disciplinary case objects to the board’s findings or recommendations, the Ohio Supreme Court agrees to hear oral arguments in the matter. The disciplinary case will be heard Oct. 18 in Marietta during the Court’s Off-Site Court Program in Marietta.

Former Judge Believes Remorse and Other Factors Justify Lesser Punishment
Mason argues that the panel didn’t adequately inform the board about the testimony given by five of his witnesses. He describes testimony from his father’s first cousin, who is also a pastor; his sister; another relative; a former employee; and a former teacher and principal, who worked with Mason on legislation and was later appointed to oversee Mason’s visitations with his children. The witnesses spoke about his good moral character, the one-time nature of the assault, his statements taking responsibility for his actions, and his commitment to his children both before and after the incident. Because the panel didn’t give this information to the board, the board wasn’t able to make an informed decision about his punishment, Mason contends.

“Nothing could be more misleading to the Board than the Panel’s obvious abdication of its responsibility to report relevant facts provided by these witnesses during their testimony,” his brief to the Court states.

Mason also asserts that the panel didn’t address the substance of the character letters sent on his behalf, which showed how isolated the assault was and reflected his genuine remorse for his actions. He points to his voluntary and continuing participation in counseling as well. In addition, all evidence, including an email from Fraser, supporting the value of permitting Mason to continue as an attorney “was ignored and not reported to the Board,” the brief argues.

Mason notes that, leading up to the assault, his father died, then his mother died, his house flooded twice and became infested with rats, his daughter has health issues related to Down syndrome, and a few days before the assault he had gone to the local hospital’s emergency room with chest pains.

“[T]he record simply does not support the aggravating factors found by the Panel but instead support mitigating factors which should serve to temper the sanction imposed by this Court,” his brief states.

Mason points out that the bar association proposed an indefinite suspension to the board, and he asks the Court to impose that punishment with credit for the time he has been suspended since his conviction in September 2015.

Bar Association States Evidence Supports Board’s Recommendation
The state bar association responds that the panel was in the best position to consider the evidence, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors, despite Mason’s interpretation of the evidence.

The bar association notes that Mason’s children are still in counseling, which began as a result of the assault, and that his visits with them are supervised. Mason has provided no evidence or testimony that a mental health or substance abuse disorder contributed to the assault or that shows a clear connection between the attack and the stressors in his life at the time, the bar association states. While Mason has attended counseling with a psychologist and psychiatrist, the bar association argues that he submitted no treatment plan to the panel and that he was ordered by the court when released to complete a counseling program – a requirement that contrasts with Mason’s claim that the counseling is voluntary. The board decided that the factors supporting a lesser punishment for Mason were insignificant when compared with the offenses, and that conclusion was reasonable based on the evidence, the bar association maintains.

In the bar association’s view, disbarment is appropriate “for a violent assault committed by a sitting member of the judiciary against his wife and witnessed by his young children ….” Noting that disciplinary punishments are designed to protect the public and the integrity of the judicial branch, the bar association also argues that the Supreme Court holds judges to a higher standard of integrity and ethical conduct because of their positions of public trust.

However, if the Court determines that the evidence supports a less-severe sanction, the bar association recommends an indefinite suspension with no credit to Mason for the time he has been suspended under the Court’s order after his conviction. The bar association’s position is that the balance of the aggravating factors against the mitigating circumstances in this case doesn’t support any credit for time served.

Kathleen Maloney

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Contacts
Representing Lance T. Mason: Richard Alkire, 216.573.0801

Representing the Ohio State Bar Association: Kelly Heile, 513.887.3474

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