Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Attorney Who Struck Police Cruiser While Intoxicated Receives Stayed Suspension

The Ohio Supreme Court today imposed a fully stayed one-year suspension on a Cleveland-area attorney who struck a parked police car while driving under the influence of alcohol and fled the scene.

The Supreme Court suspended Marc Strauss of Willoughby Hills for engaging in conduct that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness to practice law. In a per curiam opinion, the Court majority issued the fully stayed suspension, noting that Strauss had essentially stopped practicing law in 2006 and is subject to random drug testing as a provision of his criminal probation that continues until April 2022.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Patrick F. Fischer, R. Patrick DeWine, Melody J. Stewart, and Jennifer Brunner joined the opinion. Justice Michael P. Donnelly did not participate in the case.

Cruiser Struck on Snowy Highway
At around 2 a.m. on March 2, 2018, Strauss was driving on Interstate 271 in snowy conditions when he rear-ended a Beachwood Police Department cruiser parked on the side of the road near the scene of another accident.

The impact caused substantial damage to Strauss’ car and the cruiser, but Strauss left the scene without stopping. He continued to drive until he crashed in the median on southbound I-271. He abandoned his car and fled on foot.  Beachwood police found him walking in the middle of a nearby road, and he did not obey their orders to stop. He was arrested, and a breath-alcohol test revealed his blood-alcohol content was 0.148, above the 0.08 legal limit.

In January 2019, Strauss pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) and five other misdemeanor charges, including leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 87 days suspended and a three-day credit for completing a driver-intervention program. His driver’s license was suspended for two years, and he was placed on probation with reporting requirements for one year, followed by two years of nonreporting probation.

The Court’s opinion noted Strauss was previously charged with OVI in August 2012, and pleaded no contest in Euclid Municipal Court to a charge of having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence.

Conviction Prompts Complaint
Based on Strauss’ arrest and conviction, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association filed a complaint against him with the Board of Professional Conduct. The bar association and Strauss stipulated that his acts violated the rules governing the professional conduct of Ohio lawyers by committing an illegal act that reflects on his honesty and trustworthiness, and engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

When considering a proposed sanction to recommend to the Court, the board noted that while Strauss maintains an active law license, he left the practice of law in 2006 to engage in real-estate development and performs limited legal work.

The Court adopted the board’s recommendation that Strauss receive a one-year suspension, fully stayed on the conditions that he not commit further misconduct and comply with the terms of his probation. His probation requires he refrain from using non-prescriptive drugs and submit to random drug testing. He also was ordered to pay for the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

2020-1512. Cleveland Metro. Bar Assn. v. Strauss, Slip Opinion No. 2021-Ohio-1263.

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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