MOUNT VERNON — The Supreme Court of Ohio unanimously upheld a disciplinary counsel’s recommendation to suspend attorney Scott Pullins’ law license indefinitely.
In a slip opinion released Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of Ohio reiterated Pullins was charged with “numerous counts” of professional misconduct and despite Pullins’ objections to the case against him, the court agreed with the disciplinary counsel and handed down an indefinite suspension from the practice of law in Ohio.
“His pattern of unfounded, intemperate, and unprofessional attacks on the judicial system and his misuse of the power entrusted to him by virtue of his stature as an attorney demonstrate a profound disrespect for the legal profession,” the opinion stated.
Pullins has argued his actions, though some were sanctionable, were not malicious nor worthy of an indefinite suspension. His recommendation was a public reprimand.
“This process has not been fair or just from the beginning and the court merely continued the trend,” Pullins told the News on Thursday morning. “It’s a sad state of affairs when attorneys that steal from clients, harm their clients and commit crimes are punished less severely than me.”
The disciplinary counsel and the Supreme Court of Ohio found evidence to prove incidences of professional misconduct including “filing false and disrespectful statements regarding two judges [Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster and visiting Judge Thomas Curran] in affidavits of disqualification, improper use of his notary powers, issuance of subpoenas in a stayed case, accusations that two judges and a prosecutor engaged in ex parte communications about pending cases, and issuance of a subpoena to a judge’s wife.”
In its decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio addressed issues with Pullins’ mental health it believes is part of his lack of professional conduct.
In 2008, Pullins “entered into a monitoring contract that required him to obtain a drug and alcohol assessment, resume counseling, contact a psychiatrist for an evaluation of his medications, call [Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program] three times a week, and have his past treating professional provide OLAP with written reports regarding his diagnosis, treatment plan, prognosis and compliance,” stated the court’s ruling.
Pullins remained in compliance, according to the Supreme Court until April 2009. Because Pullins terminated his contract with OLAP, the court considered his “unaddressed psychological issues as a factor in aggravation.”
“And based upon our concern that respondent has underlying mental-health issues that may have contributed to his misconduct, not only must respondent comply with the requirements for reinstatement set forth in Gov.Bar R V(10)(B), but he must also provide proof that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, he is mentally fit to return to the competent, profession and ethical practice of law,”
Pullins must wait two years before applying for reinstatement, according to Michael Murman, attorney for the disciplinary counsel.
“His application must be submitted to the board and he must present clear and convincing evidence that he has character, fitness and is mentally suited to practice law,” Murman said.
Murman said that once Pullins is served with an order to suspend his practice he will have 30 days to return any unearned fees or property belonging to his clients such as retainers, notify opposing counsel and courts of any open cases and close his practice.
The process has taken over two years but Murman said the time frame isn’t too unusual.
“It’s been a little over two years that I’ve been involved in [the case], yet if you compare it with a significant, complex civil lawsuit that goes to trial and judgment, two years is really not that long,” Murman said.
However, Murman understands that for those involved, the case has been burdensome.
“It can be disturbing to people involved. It was a long, arduous process,” he said.
After learning of Thursday’s ruling, Murman said he was pleased, especially when the Supreme Court was in agreement the with disciplinary counsel’s findings on the seven counts of misconduct.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It is always gratifying to see that the Supreme Court agrees with the case I put together.”
As part of Thursday’s filings, Pullins is also required to pay $6,171.61. Murman explained the vast majority of these costs include court reporter fees as well as postage and fees for board members during the initial hearing.
Although Pullins continues to maintain the case against him was weak and unfair, he told the News the he has learned from the experience.
“I still have a business to run, a healthy and happy family, and many friends and supporters for which I am thankful. I am also thankful for the fact that I am a better person now, than when this process began.”
Pullins has been practicing law in Ohio since 2003. In late September he moved his office from Mount Vernon to Polaris Parkway in Columbus after the city of Mount Vernon denied his conditional use request to move his office into his Mount Vernon residence.
The Slip Opinion, according to Murman, is an unedited version of the court’s findings and is open to editing but stands as the court’s final ruling.
Pullins has the option to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court which hears only about 100 cases a year from thousands of submitted cases. Murman said he feels confident this case, if appealed, would not be heard because there are no constitutional questions involved in the proceedings.
Calls to Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster seeking comment were unreturned as of press time.
To read the entire Ohio Supreme Court decision, visit www.mountvernonnews.com.