Central Ohio Lawyer Suspended from Practice
The law license of Bexley attorney Gerald T. Noel has been indefinitely suspended for violating three state attorney discipline rules in his dealings with a client, and committing a further violation by failing to cooperate with disciplinary authorities investigating his misconduct.
In a 7-0 per curiam opinion announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that Noel deposited an unearned fee advance he received from a client in his law office checking account rather than in a dedicated client trust account, cashed the client’s money orders without performing the requested legal services, and gave contradictory testimony in a deposition and at his disciplinary hearing regarding when he had accepted the money orders and why he had not returned the money. The court found that the latter actions constituted conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation and conduct that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law.
The court also found that after the client filed a grievance against Noel, he failed to respond to repeated requests for information from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and ultimately cooperated in the investigation only after being notified that default proceedings were to be initiated against him. The court found that a second grievance filed against Noel by a different client was not supported by sufficient evidence to prove an ethics violation, but held that Noel’s failure to file a response to that grievance with disciplinary authorities again violated his duty to cooperate.
In imposing an indefinite suspension as the appropriate sanction for this misconduct, the court noted the aggravating factors that Noel’s law license has been under suspension since June of 2010 for prior rule violations, that he engaged in multiple acts of misconduct and that he failed to cooperate in disciplinary proceedings.
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2012-0656. Disciplinary Counsel v. Noel, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-5456.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 11-051. Gerald Thomas Noel Jr., Attorney Registration No. 0063972, is indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the state of Ohio.
O’Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O’Donnell, Lanzinger, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
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