MOUNT VERNON — After the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio handed down a recommendation to indefinitely suspend Scott Pullins’ law license, the local attorney has filed a 90-page objection with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)
More counts filed against Pullins April 9, 2009
Panel recommends Pullins be suspended May 13, 2010
The document, filed Thursday, meticulously explains Pullins’ position on each of the seven counts of misconduct filed against him and his response to the Board’s Filing of Fact submitted to the SCO last month. He quotes case law as well as deposition statements from Knox County Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster, retired Judge Thomas Curran, as well as his own.
Pullins argues since he was never charged with harassment or abusing the discovery process it would be impossible for him to use his law license to abuse the system or harass individuals.
“As a matter of law and of fact, [Pullins] believes he has shown that he did not either abuse the discovery process or harass or harm any individual,” Pullins states in his objection.
In defense of several statements made by Pullins against Eyster, he pleads he had factual and reasonable cause to make the statements. In fact, Pullins argues that such statements aren’t required to be true.
“Under Ohio’s long-standing case law, an attorney may make a statement without incurring jeopardy, even if the allegation later proves to be false, if it is supported with a reasonable factual basis,” Pullins said.
“Under the objective standard, an attorney may still freely exercise free speech rights, and make statements supported by a reasonable basis, even if the attorney turns out to be mistaken,” Pullins quoted from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Gardner (Ohio 2003).
Pullins was permitted to practice law in the state of Ohio on Nov. 10, 2003, but did not begin to practice until May 2005. He contends many of the charges filed against him with the Board of Grievances were in regard to cases from his first year as a lawyer. Pullins admits to making rookie mistakes in some of these cases but does not feel he should be reprimanded for inexperience.
“[Pullins] was a new lawyer appearing in his first cases. In doing so he made mistakes that greatly angered the local judge, who refused to forgive him. Judges are required to be ‘patient, dignified, and courteous to parties and their lawyers even in the most difficult circumstances’,” Pullins stated.
If upheld, Pullins believes the recommendation “will lead to great uncertainty for Ohio’s legal system.”
According to the document, Pullins argues he is the only victim in these proceedings.
“The only person’s reputation that has been harmed by [Pullins’] actions has been [Pullins],” he stated. “[Pullins] has repeatedly admitted to multiple instances of misconduct. [Pullins] asks this court to sanction him based upon the evidence and the law.”
If the Supreme Court of Ohio does not agree with Pullins’ original request for a public reprimand, he believes a six-month suspension, fully stayed, would be appropriate.
Michael Murman, special prosecutor assigned by the disciplinary council, will have 15 days to file his response to Pullins’ objections after which a hearing in front of the Supreme Court of Ohio will be scheduled to allow both sides 15 minutes each to state their case. The final ruling will come from the SCO.