Friday, May 26, 2017

Ohio Supreme Court yanks law license of ‘Ethics Monster’

A Westerville attorney who once “prosecuted” wayward lawyers was suspended indefinitely from the practice of law today for repeated misconduct.

The Ohio Supreme Court handed down the sanction against Kenneth Donchatz by a 4-3 vote, with the dissenting justices preferring a two-year suspension with six months stayed.

Donchatz, who once described himself as “The Ethics Monster,” formerly was an assistant disciplinary counsel with the court who pursued charges of professional misconduct against other lawyers.

The court majority said Donchatz forfeited his right to practice to law through “significant acts of dishonesty” and “false and contradictory statements” he made throughout his disciplinary proceedings.

One charge against Donchatz alleged he improperly obtained a $100,000 loan from a client in 2009 in a transaction that was not arms-length and only repaid $57,000. Donchatz told the justices that the rest was repaid with an antique desk, given to him by the same client, that was discovered by a certified appraiser to be worth more than $51,000 after it was refurbished. The statement left Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor incredulous.

He also was found to have filed court paperwork falsely claiming he fully repaid a $2,181 default judgment that a tree-trimming company won against him and filing a false statement. Donchatz also was discovered to have made an improper filing falsely claiming that a lawsuit had been settled.

The lawyer also was found to have misrepresented the statements of an assistant disciplinary counsel, and defaming her, while representing another lawyer accused of misconduct. The First Amendment does not protect lawyers from liability for making malicious statements against other lawyers in legal proceedings, the justices ruled.

The court found that Donchatz deliberately made false statements and disobeyed rules in four separate cases.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, which handled the case due to the lawyer’s former association with the disciplinary counsel, argued that Donchatz should receive an indefinite suspension. The Board of Professional Conduct had recommended the two-year suspension with six months stayed.

Given his earlier service to the state, his 16 years of teaching at Ohio State University and his coaching of the Westerville North High School mock-trial team for 20 years, Donchatz argued he deserved a stayed suspension.

Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Patrick F. Fischer and R. Patrick DeWine joined O’Connor in indefinitely suspending Donchatz. Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French and William M. O’Neill formed the minority.

Full Article & Source:
Ohio Supreme Court yanks law license of ‘Ethics Monster’


StandUp said...

This has me baffled. Lawyers who go after other lawyers in misconduct cases are often target themselves. Is this a good guy or not?

Anonymous said...

I think this decision is a example of how the courts should in fact work by the rule of law. I ask though what about all the past cases by this attorney? Will all cases be investigated because as proven he didn't abide by the law? Also, why is it so incredible hard for a plain citizen that brings complaint to see the same outcome for the same crimes? The only reason this happened is because one lawyer was against the other for one.