Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Attorney Who Led Police on High-Speed Chase Indefinitely Suspended

An Urbana attorney, who led police on a nearly 100 mph car chase while intoxicated, was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law by the Supreme Court of Ohio today.

In a unanimous per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court suspended Ryan Reed. He has been under an interim suspension since his December 2020 convictions and incarceration for multiple criminal charges. The Supreme Court found Reed violated 16 ethics rules arising from the convictions and the handling of three client matters. He must pay two clients a total of $4,750 in restitution within the next 90 days.

Attorney Arrested in Courthouse
Reed’s girlfriend, identified in court records as “P.S.,” and her daughter lived with Reed in his house. P.S. also worked as an administrative assistant in Reed’s law office, which he operated out of his house. In May 2020, P.S. found Reed “passed out” drunk in his office. Later the two got into an argument in which Reed shoved P.S. as she tried to get into her car. P.S. left the area without her car. The next morning, she returned to find that Reed had slashed two of her tires and she called Urbana police. She told the police Reed was likely in court and intoxicated.

Reed was appearing at a hearing on a client matter in the Champaign County Courthouse. Afterwards, police arrested him for domestic violence and assault. The officers detected the smell of alcohol and administered field sobriety tests, which Reed failed. Because he had driven to the courthouse, police charged him with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI).

Protection Order Violations, Additional Crimes Ensue
Following his arrest, the trial judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that allowed P.S. to remain in Reed’s home. The judge gave Reed to about three hours to retrieve his belongings from the house. About a week after the TRO was issued, Reed went to his home when P.S. and her daughter were present. He fled when P.S. called 911.

Reed denied to a police officer that he was at the home. At the officer’s urging, Reed agreed to surrender the next morning, but he did not, and an arrest warrant was issued. Two days later, Reed crawled through a window of his home, but fled when the police arrived. He was apprehended and found to be wearing a bulletproof vest.

A grand jury indicted Reed on nine counts, including two for felony burglary, violations of a protection order, OVI, domestic violence, and assault. While out on bond, Reed was holding a knife when he told his mother that he was going to go kill P.S. His mother called a counselor Reed was seeing and the counselor alerted police.

Reed led police on a high-speed chase, reaching nearly 100 mph before losing control and crashing into a tree. His blood-alcohol level was 0.17, which is more than twice the legal limit. Reed was charged with four crimes, including OVI.

Incidents Lead to Incarceration, Suspension
In October 2020, Reed pleaded guilty to a total of five charges from the two separate cases. He received a two-year prison sentence and an 18-month prison sentence, which the trial court ordered to run concurrently. He was also placed on three years of postrelease control.

Following his arrest, the Supreme Court placed Reed on an interim suspension from the practice of law, which remained in place until an indefinite suspension was imposed today. Based on the felony convictions and allegations raised by clients in matters Reed was handling, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct.

Reed stipulated, and the board found he violated several ethics rules including committing an illegal act that reflects on his honesty and trustworthiness, and engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

Clients Not Informed of Case Status
In 2018, California resident Brandon Thomas paid Reed $7,000 to represent him in a criminal matter in Miami County, Ohio. Thomas was released on bond and returned to California. Thomas expressed difficulty in reaching Reed about the case.

In January 2020, the prosecutor informed Reed of a plea offer that Reed did not communicate to Thomas. In May 2020, the judge asked why Reed had not appeared at a status conference for another criminal matter two days earlier. Reed eventually admitted he did not appear because he was “passed out drunk.”

After learning of Reed’s interim suspension, the judge appointed a public defender to represent the client whose status conference Reed had missed. Thomas hired a new lawyer, and although Reed did not complete the representation, he kept the $7,000 fee.

Also during 2020, Reed represented two women in domestic cases in which he failed to respond to client questions or fulfill his obligations. He agreed that he owed one of the women a $750 refund of the $1,500 fee he charged.

The board found that Reed’s conduct violated 10 ethical rules, including one that required him to promptly return unearned fees after withdrawing from employment. The professional conduct board found, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Reed owed Thomas $4,000 of the $7,000 he paid in fees and $750 to the client in the domestic matter.

Board Recommends Suspension With Conditions
The board noted that Reed was diagnosed with a general anxiety and severe alcohol-use disorders. He reported that he has remained sober since he was incarcerated in 2020 and entered into a contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP). The board recommended that the Court indefinitely suspend Reed and not allow him to apply for reinstatement until he completes the postrelease control imposed in his criminal case and pays restitution to his clients.

The Court adopted the recommendations and ordered that to be reinstated, Reed must prove he follows his OLAP contract, continues treatment approved by OLAP, and submits an opinion from his treatment provider that he can return to the competent, ethical, and professional practice of law. The Court also ordered Reed to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

2022-0955. Disciplinary Counsel v. Reed, Slip Opinion No. 2023-Ohio-1420.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

Adobe PDF PDF files may be viewed, printed, and searched using the free Acrobat® Reader
Acrobat Reader is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated.