Thursday, 19 November 2015 09:16

Akron Lawyer In Trouble Again

Not only is a former Akron attorney not allowed to practice law -- she's being chided again by the Ohio Supreme Court for not surrendering the documents that lawyers need to practice. Jana Bassinger DeLoach was first suspended back in 2010, publicly reprimanced in 2012, charged with misconduct by the Akron Bar Association in 2013 and ordered in May of this year to turn in her registration card and certificate of admission to practice law.

The Court today ruled she's in contempt for not turning the documents to the Supreme Court. DeLoach's practice concentrated on immigration, civil and criminal cases.

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(Ohio Supreme Court ruling 11/19/2015) In re Resignation of DeLoach. It is ordered by this court, sua sponte, that Jana Bassinger DeLoach, Attorney Registration No. 0071743, last known business address in Akron, Ohio, is found in contempt for failure to comply with this court’s order of May 14, 2015, to wit: failure to failure to surrender her attorney-registration card and her certificate of admission and failure to file an affidavit of compliance on or before June 15, 2015.

Background May 2015:

(Ohio Supreme Court) The Supreme Court first suspended DeLoach’s law license in December 2010 for failing to comply with her CLE requirements. In August 2011, the court issued a six-month stayed suspension and a two-year period of monitored probation for engaging in dishonest conduct during a disciplinary investigation, and in October 2012, she was publicly reprimanded for failing to notify clients that she lacked professional liability insurance.

In May 2013, the Akron Bar Association charged DeLoach with professional misconduct for neglecting a client matter, charging the client an excessive fee, and failing to deposit the client’s retainer into a trust account. The disciplinary board recommended a two-year suspension, with both years stayed if DeLoach met certain conditions. The court, recognizing that the actions questioned by the bar association took place during the same time she was being sanctioned for other rule violations, decided to issue one year of actual suspension with the second year stayed.

The suspension is the result of DeLoach taking a $7,000 retainer from Rose Warren in April 2008 to investigate the murder conviction of her son, OsRouge Turner, and obtain Turner’s release from prison. DeLoach told Warren she would charge $250 per hour until she reached $7,000 and if further work was required, she would continue without charge.After taking the fee, DeLoach failed to obtain a trial transcript and public records in Turner’s case. She did not file a motion for resentencing, the first step in the process for obtaining Turner’s release, until May 2010, two years after his mother retained DeLoach, the court noted.

The resentencing motion was three pages long, and DeLoach failed to file a brief in reply to the state’s 10-page memorandum opposing Turner’s resentencing. “She told Turner that she would update and resubmit the brief, but she failed to file anything additional with the court,” the per curiam opinion stated.

DeLoach admitted to the disciplinary board that she did not act with diligence in filing the motion and some of her early work was not necessary. The board found she made bad tactical decisions and failed to manage her caseload so that she could handle the Turner case competently. Both the board and the court found DeLoach violated the professional conduct rule requiring a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client.

Warren asked for a full refund of her $7,000 retainer, but DeLoach declined to refund the money and did not provide a billing statement to her. During the disciplinary proceedings, an expert testifying on behalf of the bar association said it was likely DeLoach spent 16.6 hours working on Turner’s case and could have charged Warren $4,150, leaving Warren a $2,850 refund. DeLoach then agreed to pay the refund, but waited 36 days after the disciplinary hearing to pay. The court deemed that DeLoach violated the rule prohibiting lawyers from charging a clearly excessive fee, and that DeLoach never placed the money into a client trust account where she could withdraw payments after documenting the time spent working for the client.

In determining the sanction, the opinion explained that actions leading to her prior disciplinary charges had taken place within months of the wrongful conduct in handling the Turner case. “Thus, DeLoach committed some of the underlying misconduct while her first disciplinary case was pending,” the opinion noted. “More importantly, we would have sanctioned DeLoach differently in her prior cases if we had been aware of the extent of her misconduct.”

The court ruled its stay of the second year of suspension is contingent on DeLoach not committing further misconduct, completing 12 hours of legal education in law practice management and recordkeeping, and submitting to monitored probation.

Published in Local
Thursday, 17 September 2015 08:38

Akron Bar Issues Judge Ratings

The Akron Bar Association ratings for candidates for judicial races on the ballot in November are out, and for the most part candidates are rated as "Excellent," "Good" or "Adequate."

The lone exception was David Worhatch, running for the Stow Municipal Court slot currently held by Lisa Coates. The Bar Association's committee reveiwing candidates found Worhatch to be "Unacceptable" in it's ratings.

The four positions on the ballot are all on local municipal courts.

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(Akron Bar Association) The Akron Bar Association Commission on Judicial Candidates has been established by the Akron Bar Association to evaluate candidates for local judgeships. The Commission rates the candidates “Excellent,” “Good,” “Adequate,” or “Not Acceptable.” Ratings are based on seven criteria: integrity, legal knowledge and ability, professional experience, judicial temperament, diligence, personal responsibility and public and community service.

All ratings require a majority vote of the Commission; a rating of “Excellent” requires two thirds supermajority of the Commission. The ratings are not intended to be a comparison or endorsement of candidates, but only represent the Commission’s evaluation of each individual candidate’s qualifications for the specific office sought. 

A rating of “Adequate” requires a vote of a majority of the Commission members present. If a candidate is rated “Adequate,” a second ballot is taken to determine if the rating “Good” will be awarded, also requiring a vote of the majority of the Commission members present. If a candidate is rated “Good,” a third ballot is taken to determine if the rating “Excellent” will be awarded. The “Excellent” rating requires the affirmative vote of a two-thirds majority of the Commission members present.

The ratings are as follows:

Akron Municipal Court - Term beginning January 1, 2016
Jason Adams GOOD
Jerry Larson EXCELLENT

Akron Municipal Court - Unexpired Term to End January 1, 2020
David Lombardi EXCELLENT

Barberton Municipal Court - Unexpired Term to End December 31, 2017
Paul Adamson EXCELLENT
Jill Flagg Lanzinger GOOD

Stow Municipal Court - Term to begin January 1, 2016
Lee Ann Schaffer ADEQUATE

Published in Local
Friday, 30 January 2015 12:36

Her Honor Is Honored

9th District Court of Appeals Judge Carla Moore is being honored by peers.

Moore was selected by fellow lawyers to win the Akron Bar Association's Judicial Pioneer Award.  They pick somebody who is the first of their race, gender or cultural background to become a judge. 

Moore's been doing it for awhile.  She was an Akron Municipal Court judge for 15 years and now has a decade of experience at the appeals court.

Published in Local
Thursday, 18 December 2014 08:56

AUDIO What Makes A Grand Jury?

Grand juries have come into full focus after controversial decisions have sparked debate as into what exactly makes a grand jury. A group of legal experts weighed in on not only what goes into the process, but what factors are not a part of the equation.

Deputy Chief Assistant of the Summit County Prosecutor's Office Margaret Scott, along with attorney and former Akron Bar Association President Peter Cahoon, and current Bar President Ann Marie O'Brien spoke about the grand jury selection process.

"A pool of people are brought into court from a group of registered voters, they are asked series of questions, and fifteen are selected from that pool, twelve jurors and three alternates," says Margaret Scott.

Scott told WAKR's Ray Horner  that race doesn't have a role in the selection of a grand jury, but did say that those who are selected to serve do generally reflect the demographics of a given city population.


Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

Looks like the battle between the Akron Bar Association, Akron Beacon Journal and reporter Phil Trexler is ending with a whimper.

The Bar Association wanted the newspaper and Trexler held in contempt for not testifying in it's investigation of local attorney Larry Shenise, who claimed he missed a hearing in Judge Paul Gallagher's court because he hadn't been notified. Gallagher was upset enough to file a complaint against Shenise, and the Bar Association wanted to force Trexler to testify beyond the quotes from Shenise in a story Trexler wrote. When Trexler and the paper refused, the lawyer's group sought a contempt ruling.

The newspaper and Trexler pushed back and the case went to the Ohio Supreme Court. In a ruling posted on the court's website today, justices denied the contempt motion from the Akron Bar Association and further quashed any other motions in the case.

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(Ohio Supreme Court) In Akron Bar Assn. v. Shenise, the court granted relator’s motion to dismiss the notice of appeal of the Beacon Journal Publishing Company and Phil Trexler, denied relator’s motion to hold Trexler in contempt, denied a request for a hearing by the Beacon and Trexler, and dismissed the case.

Published in Local
Saturday, 08 February 2014 10:14

ABJ, Reporter Could Face Contempt Charge

The Akron Beacon Journal and reporter Phil Trexler find themselves on the wrong side of a split Ohio Supreme Court decision -- over whether an Akron attorney was or wasn't misquoted when he complained he didn't get notice of a hearing.

The legal wrangling started when local attorney Larry Shenise told the newspaper he never got notice of a hearing from the court of Judge Paul Gallagher in a case that led to his 80-year old client being threatened with jail time. Judge Gallagher was upset with Shenise's comments and filed a complaint with the Akron Bar Association. The Bar's committee investigating the complaint wanted Trexler to testify to Shenise's comments published in the paper, comments Shenise claimed were misquotes. Both Trexler and the newspaper refused to testify, leading the Bar Association to file for a contempt hearing from the Ohio Supreme Court.

The court sided with the Bar Association in a 4-3 ruling published Friday ordering the newspaper and Trexler to file arguments within five days on why they should not be held in contempt for refusing to testify. 



Published in Local

The Akron Bar Association is getting political by setting up a committee to review complaints and ask judicial candidates to sign a pledge to run a clean campaign.

Jack Weisensell, president of the Akron Bar Association, tells the Beacon Journal that the purpose of the Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee is to deter negative campaigning and to make sure campaigns are fair and honest.

Judicial campaigns are hot items and can get pretty negative. Municipal judges in Akron recently have made headlines over cases lately, including the resignation of one magistrate.

On the web:


Published in Local

The Akron Bar Association requests Copley Police documents involving an Akron municipal court public defender. reported on Tuesday that Catherine Loya, a public defender, would be re-assigned following a Feb. 5 police report from Copley that indicated she refused a breathalyzer test when found in a car with Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Oldfield. A Copley police officer reported the vehicle smelled of alcohol.

The Beacon Journal reports police documents regarding the incident are now in the hands of the Akron Bar. Any investigation by the association would be a private manner and findings could eventually be passed on to the Ohio Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, City Prosecutor Doug Powley questioned a potential conflict on reports from the Beacon Journal that stated Oldfield provided a ride to work for Loya following the incident. Loya lost her license to drive pending a citation for physical control of a vehicle and refusing the test.

Powley says he has reviewed the allegations with his courtroom prosecutor and has been assured that there has been "no adverse results" during the time that Judge Oldfield served in the courtroom.

The newspaper reports Oldfield's attorney admits she had been drinking that night, but John Hill says she was not drunk. He told the Beacon Journal on Sunday that the judge is "dumbfounded and incredibly upset" by the report, and there is "no unusual or inappropriate relationship" with Loya.

Previous Coverage: 

Public Defender Reassigned Following Allegations

Akron Judge Center of Police Report Flap

Published in Local