Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

State of Ohio v. Gregory White, Case no. 2017-1292
First District Court of Appeals (Hamilton County)

In re Application of Ohio Edison Co., Case nos. 2017-1444 and 2017-1664
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

State of Ohio v. Ronald Amos, Case no. 2017-1778
First District Court of Appeals (Hamilton County)

Disciplinary Counsel v. Phillip L. Harmon, Case no. 2018-0817
Franklin County

Do Trial Courts Have to Document Punishment for a Conviction to Be Appealed?

State of Ohio v. Gregory White, Case no. 2017-1292
First District Court of Appeals (Hamilton County)

ISSUES: To constitute a final, appealable order, must a conviction for a minor misdemeanor include listing of a punishment or sentence?

In January 2016, Gregory White was driving along Interstate 75 in Cincinnati when he got into a minor accident with another vehicle. The encounter escalated into a confrontation with the other driver and eventually resulted in White fleeing from the accident scene after being physically assaulted.

White was charged with failure to stop after an accident and with a minor misdemeanor of operating a vehicle without being in control of it. The case went to a bench trial where the judge found White guilty on both charges. For the failure to stop conviction, the trial court imposed a 180-day jail sentence with all 180 days suspended, one year of community control, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and a $50 fine. For the loss of control conviction, the court imposed only court costs.

White appealed both sentences to the First District Court of Appeals. For the failure to stop conviction, the First District dismissed the case because it was improperly journalized and it permitted White to refile the appeal after the error was corrected. For the loss of control charge, the First District also dismissed the case, ruling that the imposition of only a court cost isn’t a “sentence,” and doesn’t meet the requirements of a final, appealable order. It ruled it had no jurisdiction to consider the matter.

White appealed the decision to dismiss his loss of control appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.

Stated Punishment Not Necessary, Offender Argues
White argues there is no need for a judge to impose a “punishment,” such as a fine, to make the conviction a sentence that can be appealed. White argues that for indigent Ohioans, like himself, the imposition of court costs alone can impose a hardship, and there are other consequences from having a conviction without the ability to appeal. White maintains that if he has no right appeal his case, which lists that he pleaded guilty to a crime, then he has no ability to seek to have the record sealed. It can’t be sealed because the appellate court doesn’t consider the trial court’s entry as a sentence that can be sealed, he states.

He also argues that the appellate court’s determination forces a trial judge to take the mandatory action of imposing a fine, even though R.C. 2929.28(A) makes that discretionary, in order for the offender to file an appeal. And he argues the prosecutor has maintained that if the sentencing judge had simply written in the sentencing entry  “$0 fine” or “waive fine,” then that would have constituted a sentence that could be appealed. White argues that is a frivolous act and a waste of judicial resources.

White also notes the written entry by the trial judge lists “stay of sentence costs pending appeal.” If the trial judge didn’t believe he was issuing a sentence when he wrote the entry, then he wouldn’t have stayed the sentence, White suggests. White advocates that for a minor misdemeanor, in which only a fine can be imposed as punishment, a conviction doesn’t require a fine for it to be an appealable order. It only has to indicate that there was a conviction, the court imposed court costs, the conviction entry signed by the judge, and an entry journalized by the clerk of courts, he concludes.

Sentence Not Appealable, State Argues
The Cincinnati city prosecutor argues that the procedures under Crim.R. 32(C) weren’t followed in a way that made White’s conviction an appealable order. The prosecutor maintains the conviction must contain a sentence to be valid and that White wants an exception to the rule that isn’t authorized.

The prosecutor agrees with the First District’s position that a court cost isn’t a criminal punishment and doesn’t constitute a sanction that can be imposed as a sentence. Since there is no sentence, there isn’t right to a final, appealable order, the prosecutor maintains.

In the Supreme Court’s 2006 State v. Threatt decision, the Court stated that court costs aren’t criminal punishments, but rather more of a civil judgment, and serve a different purpose than a fine, the prosecutor notes. The prosecutor also cites the First District’s 2017 State v. Sims decision in which a trial court sentenced a man to jail for driving under the influence, but imposed only court costs for two minor misdemeanor traffic violations. In that case, the appellate court ruled the entries weren’t convictions and weren’t final, appealable orders.

The prosecutor maintains that White can receive a final appealable order if his sentence entry is revised to indicate that he received a fine of zero dollars, or some other indication that the court fully waived a fine.

Friend-of-the-Court Brief
An amicus curiae brief supporting White’s position has been submitted by the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. The public defender maintains that the case is important because many of Ohio’s “quality-of-life offenses,” such as traffic violations, disorderly conduct, and possession of marijuana, are minor misdemeanors. Though deemed “minor,” these convictions have consequences that could include hundreds of dollars in court debt, enhanced punishment for a subsequent offense, increased insurance rates, and restrictions on travel to foreign countries, the public defender states.

The public defender asserts that offenders need the right to appeal the convictions even if no fines are imposed and a trial court shouldn’t be required to impose a fine, even if fully waived, to qualify as a sentence that can be appealed.

- Dan Trevas

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

Representing Gregory White from the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office; Joshua Thompson, 513.946.3863

Representing the State of Ohio from the Cincinnati City Prosecutor’s Office: Christopher Liu, 513.352.4707

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Can Public Utilities Commission Approve Funding for ‘Credit Support’ to Modernize Electricity Grid?

In re Application of Ohio Edison Co., Case nos. 2017-1444 and 2017-1664
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

ISSUE: Was the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio authorized to approve a distribution modernization rider for the collective FirstEnergy power companies under R.C. 4928.143(B)(2)(h)?

Three affiliated companies (Ohio Edison Company, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, and Toledo Edison Company) owned by FirstEnergy Corp. distribute and transmit electric power service throughout northern Ohio. As part of Ohio’s electric power deregulation, FirstEnergy Corp. split off its electric power plants into a separate company, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), which is owned by the parent company.

In 2014, the three distribution companies (FirstEnergy) proposed an electric security plan (ESP) that would have lasted from June 2016 through May 2019. Part of the plan offered customers the option to receive electricity partially from the FES power plants. The company proposed a rate stability rider that was associated with providing the power through the FES plants. If the costs to provide power through the combination of FES-generated power and market-rate power was cheaper than the average market price, FirstEnergy would lower the bills for the customers in the service territory. If the price to produce the power was higher, then the customers would pay extra for electricity to offset the cost regardless of whether if they chose the FES and a market-mix plan or another electricity provider.

Opponents to the plan told the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that the proposal was an impermissible scheme to make Ohio residents and businesses subsidize the noncompetitive coal-fired and nuclear power plants FES operated. Some opponents filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which ruled that any plan to mix FES and market rates had to be approved by FERC.

FirstEnergy reacted by withdrawing the rate stability rider and proposing a new rider. The PUCO staff at the same time developed its own alternative, labeled the distribution modernization rider (DMR). The DMR was announced as a plan to bring the FirstEnergy electric grid to modern standards, which could ultimately save customers money and improve economic development in the region. The plan allowed FirstEnergy to collect $132.5 million a year beginning in January 2017 and lasting through January 2020 with the option of extending it beyond 2020.

Opponents, including the Sierra Club and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group, appealed the PUCO’s approval of the FirstEnergy ESP with the grid modernization rider to the Supreme Court, which must hear appeals of PUCO decisions. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel; the Ohio Environmental Council; a collection of northern Ohio cities, counties, and villages; and other groups joined the appeal.

Rider Not Authorized by Law, Opponents Argue
The opponents raise several objections to the PUCO’s approval of the ESP, including the DMR, which doesn’t directly require FirstEnergy to use the money on grid modernization. When the PUCO approved the DMR, the commission announced the goal was to provide “credit support” to FirstEnergy Corp., the parent company. The parent company’s ability to borrow money was in jeopardy because of a potential downgrade in its credit rating. By providing funding through the rider, the PUCO could “jumpstart” the modernization efforts by putting FirstEnergy Corp. on solid footing to finance the projects for its distribution affiliates.

“In short, the DMR is simply a conduit for requiring the Companies’ captive customers to bolster the bottom line of the FirstEnergy corporate family,” the Sierra Club stated in its brief.

The opponents argue the credit support concept doesn’t guarantee that any money provided by customers would go to modernization projects. They also maintain that once the funds are with the parent company, the money could be used to support the troubled FES power plants. FES has filed for bankruptcy.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel notes that Ohio lawmakers allowed the state’s traditional monopoly power companies to earn “transition revenues” through a period of time to adjust to a competitive marketplace. The office states FirstEnergy received $6.9 billion in transition revenues from its customers, and now any other transition revenue or “the equivalent of transition revenue” is prohibited by R.C. 4928.38. The consumers’ counsel and other opponents contend the DMR is an unlawful transition revenue because the funds go to FirstEnergy’s parent company to improve its financial position and the money could be spent in ways other than grid modernization.

Additionally, the PUCO indicated it was authorized to approve the DMR under R.C. 4928.143(B)(2)(h), which allows an ESP to include “provisions regarding distribution infrastructure and modernization incentives for the electric distribution utility.” The opponents claim that the PUCO plan is “illusory” because the DMR doesn’t specify the money be spent on distribution, but rather provides credit support for the expenditures that aren’t guaranteed to be used on the grid. The opponents argue the legislature would never grant such broad discretion, and that any incentive that boosts the company’s overall finances could qualify as an aspect of an ESP.

Agency Authorized to Approve Incentive, PUCO Maintains
The PUCO argues that for Ohio to be an “economic player” in the 21st century it needs a modern energy system, and the commission made a public policy decision to use R.C. 4928.143 to modernize the system. The commission asserts that customers can control their electricity costs better through a modernized grid and the PUCO staff plan was to stabilize FirstEnergy financially so it would borrow money at reasonable rates to fund projects.

The PUCO states it was granted broad powers to improve the distribution grid, and R.C. 4928.143(B)(2)(h) allows it to approve funding for actions in “regards” for distribution service.

“The entirety of the Commission analysis around this topic involves distribution service,” the agency states in its brief. “The entire point of the DMR is to facilitate or ‘jumpstart’ investment into distribution grid modernization.”

The agency also rejects the contention that the DMR provides transition revenues to the troubled FES plants. The PUCO notes FES is completely separated from the distribution companies and the ESP’s approval called for an independent monitor to assure the DMR is used to support the parent company’s efforts to improve the grid.

Company Supports Plan
The Supreme Court permitted FirstEnergy to intervene in the case and argue for approval of its ESP. FirstEnergy argues the ESP reflects the company’s priority to improve the grid and states it intends to use all the DMR revenues for “expenses or obligations” in the company’s distribution business.

FirstEnergy notes that in mid-2016, the company had credit ratings that weren’t attractive to investors and the potential for grid modernization was threatened. The commission determined the most effective way to avoid delays or increased costs in grid modernization was through credit support of the parent company. The company notes the DMR has three parts — the funding from the customers, a requirement to file and implement a grid modernization plan, and a commitment to maintain FirstEnergy’s headquarters and key operations in Akron.

The company states that no dollars from the DMR will flow to FES and there is no mechanism to transfer money from the distribution companies to FES through the parent company. The company notes the PUCO requirement of a third-party monitor will ensure the DMR funds are expended appropriately.

Energy Users Support Plan
In addition to allowing FirstEnergy to intervene, the Court also permitted Ohio Energy Group, a collection of businesses and large energy users, to join the case. The group supports the PUCO’s approval of FirstEnergy’s ESP.

- Dan Trevas

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket case nos. (2017-1444) and (2017-1664).

Representing the Sierra Club: Mark Wallach, 216.456.3848

Representing the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group: Kimberly Bojko, 614.365.4100

Representing the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel: Maureen Willis, 614.466.9567

Representing the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office: Thomas McNamee, 614.644.8698

Representing the FirstEnergy Companies: James Lang, 216.622.8200

Representing the Ohio Energy Group: Michael Kurtz, 513.421.2255

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When Was Juvenile Court Required to Conduct Hearing on Released Youth’s Sex-Offender Status?

State of Ohio v. Ronald Amos, Case no. 2017-1778
First District Court of Appeals (Hamilton County)

ISSUE: Once a juvenile court makes an appropriate sex-offender classification under R.C. 2152.83, does the court have permanent jurisdiction to review the classification in accordance with R.C. 2152.84 and R.C. 2152.85?

In 2010, Ronald Amos was found delinquent at age 14 of an offense that would have been rape if committed by an adult. The Hamilton County Juvenile Court sent Amos for a minimum of one year to a facility for juveniles run by the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS).

The next year, the juvenile court held a hearing, classified Amos as a Tier I juvenile sex offender, and released him on parole. The court stated:

“[U]pon completion of the dispositions that were made for the sexually oriented offense upon which the order is based, a hearing will be conducted, and the order and any determinations included in the order are subject to modification or termination pursuant to ORC 2152.84.”

After finishing the requirements imposed by the juvenile court, Amos was discharged from parole on June 24, 2013. A little more than a year later, in early July 2014, the juvenile court held a “completion of disposition hearing.” Juvenile court rules define a “dispositional hearing” as “a hearing to determine what action shall be taken concerning a child who is within the jurisdiction of the court.”

Amos didn’t attend the hearing. The court ordered that his Tier I sex-offender registrant status remained in effect. Amos’ brief states that Amos didn’t receive the summons for the completion of disposition hearing date because the notice was sent by regular mail to an old address.

Charges Related to Address Notification Filed
In May 2014, Amos pled guilty to failing to provide notice of an address change. He was sentenced to community control.

Amos was indicted in July 2015, again for failing to notify the county sheriff of an address change. Amos argued that he had no duty to register as a sex offender because the juvenile court decided his classification a year after he completed parole. The trial court agreed, dismissing the indictment. The court determined that the July 2014 hearing was untimely and the juvenile court’s order was void.

After this ruling, the trial court allowed Amos to withdraw his May 2014 guilty plea in the earlier address change notification case and dismissed that charge.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office appealed the rulings to the First District Court of Appeals, which upheld the trial court’s decisions. The prosecutor appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to review the issue.

Juvenile Sex-Offender Classification Laws
The briefs describe the process in state law for classifying youth as sex offenders and placing them on a state registry.

For a 14-year-old, as Amos was when he committed the offense, R.C. 2152.83 states that the juvenile court may initially determine at the time of disposition or release from a secure facility whether a juvenile must be given a sex-offender classification.

Under R.C. 2152.84, the juvenile court must conduct a hearing “upon completion of the disposition” to review the sex-offender classification, the effectiveness of the court’s disposition and any treatment, and the risks that the child might reoffend. At that point, the juvenile court decides whether to continue, modify, or terminate the youth’s classification. 

Court Could Hold Hearing Near Time Youth Completed Parole, State Argues
The prosecutor contends that the timing of the mandatory hearing under R.C. 2152.84 is flexible. It needs to occur “around the time the juvenile has finished his disposition,” the prosecutor’s brief states.

“For purposes of Amos’s case, whether ‘upon completion of the disposition’ means prior to discharge from parole, at the time of discharge from parole, within a specific time frame of discharge of parole, or within a reasonable time of discharge of parole is not specifically set forth in the statute,” the prosecutor argues.

Because the juvenile court didn’t modify or end Amos’ initial classification at the July 2014 “completion of disposition” hearing, the prosecutor maintains that his Tier I classification automatically lasts 10 years.

Once the juvenile court makes the initial classification under R.C. 2152.83, the court is “permanently vested with jurisdiction to review the classification in accordance with R.C. 2152.84 and R.C. 2152.85,” the prosecutor argues, citing the dissent from the First District.

The prosecutor concludes that the juvenile court’s order at the July 2014 hearing wasn’t void, and the First District and trial court rulings must be reversed.

Hearing Held Too Long After Parole Finished, Juvenile Contends
Amos argues, first, that the prosecutor is barred from now claiming the juvenile court had permanent jurisdiction because the state didn’t raise the issue at the trial court or on appeal. The new argument was taken from the First District’s dissenting opinion, Amos notes.

On the issue, he disputes the prosecutor’s position that a juvenile court may conduct the mandatory hearing under R.C. 2152.84 “at any time it pleases” during the period a youth is classified as a sex offender. This approach isn’t what the legislature intended, he asserts. The statute clearly states that the second hearing must take place when the juvenile completes the disposition. Dispositions are the consequences or actions ordered by the juvenile court, Amos states. The juvenile court must hold the R.C. 2152.84 hearing at the time the child finishes the court-imposed consequences, he argues.

In his case, Amos states, he completed his disposition in June 2013 when his parole ended. That’s when the mandatory hearing had to be held and when the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over him ended, not 13 months later when the court actually held the hearing, he maintains. The juvenile court had no authority in July 2014 to keep the Tier I juvenile sex offender classification in place, he stresses.

“The disposition is the tether that allows the juvenile court to maintain some connection with the juvenile,” his brief states. “Once disposition is complete, that tether is gone, and the juvenile court no longer has jurisdiction to make further dispositions of that child. Because the juvenile court’s authority over the youth terminates with the termination of the disposition, it is logical that the court’s review of whether the classification is necessary should take place at that time.” [citations omitted]

For initial hearings based on R.C. 2152.83, Amos notes that the state’s appellate courts have ruled that juvenile courts that don’t comply with the clear timing requirements in the statutes don’t have jurisdiction over the juveniles, and any sex-offender classifications imposed are void. The same interpretation applies in cases involving completion of disposition hearings required by R.C. 2152.84, Amos contends.

He maintains that a classification initially imposed by a juvenile court “does not continue in perpetuity.”

“The purpose of R.C. 2152.84 [is to] determine whether after the disposition and rehabilitative efforts of the juvenile court, the child remains a threat to society such that registration must be continued. This purpose is completely lost if the juvenile court is not required to hold this hearing at the time the disposition is completed,” the brief states. [citations omitted]

He adds that the R.C. 2152.84 requirement that the hearing be held at the time of the completion of disposition ensures due process and fundamental fairness to juvenile offenders – safeguards that the state and the juvenile court can’t circumvent.

Groups Discuss Dangers of Violating Due Process Rights
An amicus curiae brief supporting Amos’ position has been submitted collectively by the following groups and individual:

  • Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
  • Children’s Law Center Inc.
  • Justice for Children Project
  • Juvenile Law Center
  • National Juvenile Defender Center
  • Ohio Public Defender’s Office
  • Professor Catherine Carpenter, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

They state that the sex-offender registration requirements are particularly harsh for young people, who tend to lack stable housing and employment. Tier I juvenile sex offenders, such as Amos, must register with the county sheriff every year and, for example, report when they are outside the county for more than three consecutive days. The court in this case violated Amos’ right to due process, and that is damaging to a youth on the registry who will face barriers to employment and other successes, they conclude.

- Kathleen Maloney

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

Representing the State of Ohio from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office: Paula Adams, 513.946.3228

Representing Ronald Amos from the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office: Julie Kahrs Nessler, 513.946.8256

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Worthington Attorney Takes Issue with Professional Conduct Board’s Determinations

Disciplinary Counsel v. Phillip L. Harmon, Case no. 2018-0817
Franklin County

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct recommends a two-year suspension with 18 months stayed for Worthington attorney Phillip L. Harmon. Harmon stipulated, and the board found, that he violated several attorney conduct rules, including charging legal fees for non-legal services, having a conflict of interest when representing a client in a divorce, and misleading a probate court.

Attorney Does Estate Planning for Couple
Harmon was hired in 2011 by Donald and Sandra Harper to draft an estate plan, including wills, powers of attorney, and a family trust.

Donald Harper, a 1956 Olympic silver medalist and Harmon’s high school diving coach, was diagnosed with dementia by August 2014. The following summer, Sandra Harper contacted Harmon about divorce options. At different times, Harmon indicated to various people that he couldn’t represent either of the Harpers because of his conflicts of interest, but also that he could represent Donald Harper if the divorce was non-adversarial. Sandra Harper hired a lawyer to represent her in the divorce.

In November 2015, the couple had a physical altercation, and Donald Harper was arrested and charged with domestic violence and assault. Harmon represented Donald Harper in the criminal case. In January 2016, Donald Harper pled to an amended charge of disorderly conduct/intoxication. Part of his sentence was two years of community control and an order not to leave Franklin County for more than 72 hours without his probation officer’s permission.

Client’s Daughter and Attorney Discuss Client’s Possible Move to Colorado
From mid-December 2015 into January 2016, Harmon communicated with the Harpers’ daughter, Anne Halliday, suggesting that she take over care for her father and find a permanent living arrangement, possibly in Colorado, where she lived. Harmon continued to represent Donald Harper in the divorce.

Unknown to Harmon, Halliday coordinated with a friend in Ohio to put her dad on a plane to Colorado in late January. Harmon reported him missing to police. Later that night, though, Halliday informed Harmon that her father was with her in Colorado and that he planned to live there. In subsequent communications, Harmon stated that he believed Donald Harper wasn’t safe, he had been removed from Ohio against his will, and he was in violation of his probation. On Jan. 23, 2016, Halliday emailed Harmon a letter from Donald Harper and her, stating that he left Ohio voluntarily and terminating Harmon’s legal representation.

Harmon continued to correspond with Sandra Harper’s attorney about the divorce, and he filed a petition in probate court in February 2016. In the petition, Harmon asked to withdraw as Donald Harper’s attorney; requested appointment of a guardian ad litem and legal counsel for Harper; made claims of tortious interference, undue influence, and spousal support; and asked for payment for the services he had provided. He also filed a claim in probate court that Halliday had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

Disciplinary Proceedings Initiated
Sandra Harper submitted a grievance against Harmon with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which investigated the matter.

At a hearing before the professional conduct board’s panel, Harmon stipulated to facts and admitted to violating seven rules governing attorney conduct in the state. In reporting its findings and recommended discipline to the Ohio Supreme Court, the board described the probate court filing as frivolous. Noting that Halliday, Sandra Harper, and the person who put Harmon on the plane incurred more than $52,000 in legal fees as a result of the court filing, the board recommended that Harmon pay restitution to the individuals.

Attorney Makes Numerous Objections
In Harmon’s objections, he disputes the violation regarding charging the same $200 per hour fee for both legal and non-legal services he provided to Donald Harper, totaling $30,304. He points to the $38,675 that the board concluded he must pay to Sandra Harper for her legal fees. That amount is based on her lawyer’s $315 per hour rate for legal services and $145 per hour in non-legal services, he states. His $200 per hour fee, he contends, is a “blended billing rate … applied to all services.” However, he adjusted this rate during the disciplinary process and indicates he still is owed at least $14,000.

He maintains that all parties agreed to a joint, collaborative, non-adversarial dissolution for the Harpers. Once it became adversarial, Harmon asserts that he reported the conflict of interest to the probate court in February 2016 and asked to withdraw as counsel.

Before February 2016, Harmon notes that he rejected the validity of the letter terminating his legal representation and fiduciary role because he had a legitimate question whether Anne Halliday was pressuring her father to take the step and whether her father was competent. He states that he thought the issue was best resolved by the court.

He challenges several statements that he previously agreed to in his stipulations, such as misleading the probate court magistrate by stating that Donald Harper had been kidnapped to prevent the divorce filing and that he had received no word about his client’s safety or well-being. He argues that the disciplinary counsel didn’t provide sufficient evidence to support the stipulations, and that he was sincere in his concern for his client.

Investigating Agency States Facts Support Misconduct
The disciplinary counsel disputes that the Harpers could have had a non-adversarial divorce, pointing to events, such as the criminal charges and accusations between the couple in November 2015, that counter that claim.

The office maintains that Harmon can’t credibly argue that Donald Harper was competent in some statements but incompetent in others. Also, Harmon waited weeks before raising concerns with the probate court or any authority about his client’s well-being, has minimized his false statements to the probate court, and repeatedly threatened Anne Halliday, the disciplinary counsel states.

The disciplinary counsel notes that Harmon stipulated to the facts presented in the board’s report and to the misconduct. The disciplinary counsel maintains that, given the stipulations, the board has no need “to state with specificity the evidence that it believed supported the violations.” Nor, as Harmon argues, do the rules governing disciplinary proceedings require the board to identify specific facts and legal elements on each violation, the disciplinary counsel maintains. Regardless, the disciplinary counsel’s view is that the board report provided a sufficient basis for its findings.

Harmon isn’t now permitted to submit evidence to contradict the stipulations to which he had agreed, the disciplinary counsel adds. The office winnowed down its presentation for Harmon’s disciplinary hearing because of the stipulations. The disciplinary counsel also points to several parts of Harmon’s own testimony that support the rule violations.

- Kathleen Maloney

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

Phillip L. Harmon, pro se: 614.433.9502

Representing the Office of Disciplinary Counsel: Karen Huang Osmond, 614.461.0256

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These informal previews are prepared by the Supreme Court's Office of Public Information to provide the news media and other interested persons with a brief overview of the legal issues and arguments advanced by the parties in upcoming cases scheduled for oral argument. The previews are not part of the case record, and are not considered by the Court during its deliberations.

Parties interested in receiving additional information are encouraged to review the case file available in the Supreme Court Clerk's Office (614.387.9530), or to contact counsel of record.