Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Ohio Board of Professional Conduct report which recommends that an Ohio lawyer be suspended for six (6) months for passing $11.00 in cash under the table to her incarcerated boyfriend. The case is Cincinnati Bar Association v. Virginia Maria Riggs-Horton, Case No. 2018-1757. The link with the report and other documents in the case is here: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Clerk/ecms/#/caseinfo/2018/1757
The lawyer was convicted of the misdemeanor of promoting (passing) contraband and was given a suspended jail sentence. She then self-reported to the Cincinnati, Ohio, and Kentucky Bar Associations.
The Ohio Supreme Court Board of Professional Conduct recommended the stayed suspension after the lawyer admitted that she passed the money to her boyfriend at a Kentucky detention center in August 2017 after he asked for cash for vending machines. The detention center rules prohibited money from being provided to prisoners without first being given to guards. The lawyer stated that she was unaware of the prohibition.
The Ohio Supreme Court initially rejected the six month stayed suspension and remanded the case for a formal hearing. A formal hearing was held before a Board panel on April 25, 2019, which again recommended the six month stayed suspension with conditions. According to the report, the lawyer had no prior discipline and displayed a cooperative attitude in ethics proceedings. She also had a good reputation in the community. The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct than adopted that recommendation in its report, which was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on June 14, 2019.
Bottom line: This lawyer passed $11.00 to her boyfriend under the table while visiting him in the jail, which was a violation of the jail rules and constituted the illegal passing of contraband. The lawyer was then prosecuted and plead guilty to a misdemeanor and self-reported. This was a very unfortunate learning experience for the lawyer.
Be careful out there.
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Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
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