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RobertJDFL, Attorney
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My lawyer stole $16,000 from me. He was supposed to stop a

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My lawyer stole $16,000 from me. He was supposed to stop a foreclosure on my home of 25 years. It was a minor dispute and should have been resolved easily. Instead, he took the money and spent it. He did not attempt to stop the foreclosure, did not even appeal.
As a result, I lost the $16,000 and my home. In the meantime, he was charged with a felony theft (noy mine). He voluntarily resigned his attorney's license as he was facing disbarrment. He has now had the felony reduced to misdemeanor. So, if he pays his fees and takes some catch-up classes, can he then ask to have his license reinstated? And then go practicing law until another sucker comes along he can rip-off? Is there anything I can do to prevent this? File a complaint or something? I was lucky to have survived financially since I was retired. The next victim may not be so lucky. Terry
Thank you for your question.

In Ohio, unlike some other states, disbarment is for life; there is no possibility of reinstatement. Because of its authority to regulate the practice of law in the state, the Supreme Court of Ohio is in charge of such professional discipline.

While theoretically, your lawyer could apply to become licensed in a different state, he would have to go through a character and fitness examination to prove his fitness to practice law -and I would say given that he was already disbarred in one state, and convicted of a criminal act, no other state would grant him a license to practice law.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, he has not been disbarred. Nor has he been convicted of a felony. He voluntarily resigned his license before either of these things happened. Very clever. Now that the felony has been reduced to misdemeanor, there is nothing to stop him fom having his license reinstated. He was not disbarred and was not convicted of a felony. So he pays his legal dues to the ABA, takes some classes, and voila, he's a practicing attorney again. Right?

Highly, highly doubtful. While I obviously cannot predict the future, I think there is very little chance of that happening. He would still have to petition the Ohio Supreme Court to be admitted, at which time the circumstances under which he surrendered his license would be reviewed. The fact is, he stole money from a client, and was prosecuted for that. The most serious rule violation a lawyer can commit is to steal from a client -it's an egregious violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct - Rule 8.4 specifically addresses misconduct and says lawyers will not commit illegal acts. Just because he may comply with the terms of his sentence and take a class or two does not mean that they will simply find him fit to practice law again.

As an aside, I don't know if you were ever able to recover any of the money, but if not, you may want to look into filing a claim with the Client's Security Fund of Ohio.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks! I will check this with the Ohio Supreme Court. I will also check out the Security Fund but I think it's been too long. And this guy was my cousin! I watched him grow up. We swapped books and conpared art exhibits. What a waste. I actually feel sorry for him (not too). Thanks again. Terry

I'm so sorry you had to go through this, and with a family member no less! I truly do not believe he will ever recover his license. Stealing money from a client is probably the worst thing a lawyer can do, and you can lose your license for a lot less. He may have voluntarily resigned it with the idea that he could one day get it back, but if that day were to come, I suspect it will be a long, long time in the future.

If the fund cannot help you recover the money, you may be out of options at this point. The alternative would have been to try and sue him for malpractice, and hope that his insurance carrier would pay you a settlement, but given that he is no longer in practice, I am sure he no longer even has a malpractice carrier.

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