Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Toledo Area Lawyer Permanently Disbarred

A Sylvania lawyer was permanently disbarred by the Ohio Supreme Court today, in part because he failed to comply with the orders of his existing suspension.

The Supreme Court voted 4-3 to disbar Beauregard Maximillion Harvey, who has been suspended three times by the Court since 2012. The per curiam opinion stated that because of his history of misconduct and non-compliance with Court orders and ignoring requirements of the disciplinary process, disbarment is “the only appropriate sanction.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Patrick F. Fischer, and R. Patrick DeWine voted for disbarment. Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and William M. O’Neill dissented and stated they would indefinitely suspend Harvey.

Misconduct Handling Client Matters Led to Suspensions
Harvey was first suspended for one year, stayed on conditions, in 2012 for professional misconduct, mostly for neglect when handling 12 bankruptcy matters and one small-claims action. Less than two years later, the Court found he had committed misconduct in connection with four client matters, including incompetently handling and neglecting cases, failing to maintain proper records, improperly communicating with an opposing party despite knowing the person was represented by an attorney, failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation, and refusing to pay a $2,500 fee-dispute arbitration award.

Some of the acts occurred while under the 2012 suspension, and the Court suspended for him for two years, with six months stayed on conditions, including that he prove he paid the $2,500 judgment.

He did not comply with the suspension order in several ways, including failing to properly notify his clients of his suspension and not submitting proof that he paid the judgment. The Court imposed an interim default suspension that remained in effect until today’s disbarment.

Additional Charges Levied
In 2015, the Toledo Bar Association filed a five-count complaint against Harvey, which he did not answer, and resulted in the Court imposing an interim default suspension. In November 2015, the Court held him in contempt for not complying with the terms of the default suspension. He later answered the complaint and his case was remanded to the Board of Professional Conduct.

Harvey stipulated to the charges brought by the Toledo Bar Association, and the board issued a report finding that Harvey engaged in most of the misconduct. The board recommended the Court indefinitely suspend him and impose conditions that he would have to meet to be considered for reinstatement.

Among the complaints was Harvey’s representation of Darrah Okeke, who was a defendant in a civil suit. Harvey failed to respond to discovery requests and motions by the plaintiff, which resulted in a judgment against her and garnishment of her wages. Okeke stated that Harvey never discussed potential responses to the discovery request or the motions. Harvey did not respond to the Toledo Bar’s inquiry about the case and did not cooperate in the bar’s disciplinary investigation.

Harvey also represented Renee Foels in a personal injury case. He failed to appear at three pre-trial conferences and ignored discovery requests. Foels was never informed about his lack of activity in her case and it was dismissed. He failed to cooperate in the bar association’s investigation of his mishandling of Foels’s case.

The board found Harvey violated several rules governing Ohio attorneys, including the requirement that a lawyer provide a client with competent representation, reasonably communicate with clients, and not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.  

Neglected Clients and Failure to Notify of Suspension
Another complaint from the Toledo Bar included Harvey’s representation of Pamela Stahl who paid him two $1,000 retainers to file a motion in her domestic-relations case. He did not deposit the money in a required client trust account, did not file the motion, and did not keep her apprised of her case. When she sought a refund, he refused.

In two other cases, Harvey accepted $750 from one client and $400 from another, and failed to notify them that about a month into his representation that the Court had suspended him. Harvey refused to pay refunds.

The board found he violated several conduct rules, including a requirement that he notify clients that in a pending matter that he has been suspended.

Court Considers Sanction
The opinion stated that when imposing a sanction, the Court considers several factors including aggravating circumstances that could enhance a penalty and mitigating factors that could lead to a less-severe punishment. In Harvey’s case, the board did not find any mitigating factors that it could ask the Court to consider.

The board found Harvey had a significant disciplinary record, demonstrated a selfish motive by accepting money while failing to perform legal services, committed multiple offenses, demonstrated a pattern of misconduct, was initially uncooperative with the disciplinary process, and his actions negatively impacted his clients.

In recommending a sanction the board cited several cases where the Court indefinitely suspended attorneys for similar misconduct. The opinion noted that in each of those cases, the attorneys took actions such as paying restitution, cooperating in the disciplinary process, or presenting additional mitigating evidence, such as evidence of good character, all actions Harvey failed to do. Harvey testified he had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but did not present evidence to link the condition to his misconduct, which is required for it to be considered as a mitigating factor.

The Court wrote that in past cases it has considered that an attorney’s acceptance of legal fees and then failing to provide service to be “tantamount to theft of client funds,” which is a cause for disbarment.

“He has a history of misconduct, including a pattern of not simply neglecting clients but abandoning them,” the opinion stated. “Considering this grievous misconduct, our precedent, the profusion of aggravating factors, and the absence of any mitigating factors, we hold that he is not fit to practice law in Ohio and that disbarment is therefore the only appropriate sanction.”

2015-0742. Toledo Bar Assn. v. Harvey, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-4022.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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