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Medina, Marysville Attorneys Suspended

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In separate disciplinary actions announced today, the Supreme Court suspended the licenses of attorneys Steven R. Malynn of Medina and Frederick B. Johnson of Marysville.

2011-1428.  Medina Cty. Bar Assn. v. Malynn,  Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-1293.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 09-012. Steven Reynolds Malynn, Attorney Registration No. 0067339, is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for two years, with the final six months of the suspension stayed on condition.
O'Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Donnell, Lanzinger, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-Ohio-1293.pdf

(March 28, 2012) The Supreme Court of Ohio has suspended  the law license of Medina attorney Steven R. Malynn for two years, with the final six months of that term stayed on conditions, for professional misconduct in his dealings with four different clients from whom he accepted fee advances but subsequently failed to perform the promised legal services.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Malynn failed to maintain clients’ unearned fee advances in a dedicated trust account separate from his law office operating account; failed to exercise reasonable diligence in representing his clients; failed to respond to his clients’ requests for information or keep them advised about the status of their cases; dismissed one client’s case without her knowledge or consent;  missed the statute of limitations for filing suit on behalf of another client; and failed to answer a complaint against another client’s company, resulting in a $31,000 default judgment against the client.

As  conditions for future reinstatement of his law license, the court required that Malynn refrain from any further misconduct, submit evidence that he has completed a mental health evaluation, follow all resulting treatment recommendations, and provide proof to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that he is competent to return to the ethical and professional practice of law.

Contacts
Steve C. Bailey, 330.723.4140, for the Medina County Bar Association.

Steven Malynn, pro se, 330.662.9095.

2010-2199.  Disciplinary Counsel v. Johnson, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-1284.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 10-081. Frederick Bruce Johnson, Attorney Registration No. 0003093, is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for two years, with the last 18 months stayed on condition.
O'Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Donnell, Lanzinger, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2012/2012-Ohio-1284.pdf

(March 28, 2012) In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended the license of Marysville attorney Frederick B. Johnson for two years, with the final 18 months of that term stayed on conditions, for disciplinary rule violations arising from his commingling of personal funds with client funds on deposit in his law office trust account.

The court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Johnson improperly deposited $89,000 he had received as an inheritance into his client trust account, which at the time had a balance of approximately $17,000, of which $13,300 was held in trust for a client involved in a divorce case.  Over ensuing months, the board found that Johnson wrote numerous checks payable to himself, his wife and others from the trust account to pay personal and business expenses, and on nine separate occasions depleted all of the funds in the account, resulting in a negative balance and/or the return of checks for insufficient funds.

When his client’s divorce became final and the court ordered that the $13,300 Johnson was holding be paid to the client’s wife as part of the property settlement, Johnson did not initially respond. In response to the wife’s motion to compel payment, Johnson stated in a sworn deposition that all of the funds at issue were on deposit in his trust account when in fact they were not. He subsequently presented his client’s wife with a cashier’s check for the full amount due, but admitted that those funds had not been continuously present in his trust account since he received them.

The court agreed with the board’s findings that Johnson had violated, among others, the state disciplinary rules that require an attorney to keep client funds in a dedicated trust account segregated from the attorney’s personal property, maintain current records accounting for all client funds in the attorney’s possession, and promptly deliver funds or property in the attorney’s possession to which a client is entitled.  The court also agreed that Johnson’s personal use of client funds in his possession and false statements about the balance of his trust account constituted conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct that adversely reflects on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law.

In setting the penalty for his misconduct, the court noted that Johnson had made full restitution of the funds he mishandled, had no previous disciplinary sanctions, submitted character references attesting to his reputation for honesty and professionalism, and had produced medical evidence that diagnosed physical and mental health conditions contributed to his improper acts and omissions.

Contacts
Jonathan E. Coughlan, 614.461.0256, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Alvin E. Mathews Jr., 614.227.2312, for Frederick Johnson.