Criminal defense, bankruptcy lawyers face misconduct charges – The Columbus Dispatch

Two Columbus-area lawyers face professional misconduct charges alleging they mishandled the cases of clients.

Westerville bankruptcy lawyer Robert Leon and Columbus criminal defense lawyer W. Martin Midian face disciplinary hearings before the Board of Professional Conduct after charges against them were unveiled this week.

Leon is charged with failing to file bankruptcy cases on behalf of an Urbana husband and wife despite accepting payment of $1,850 in cash that was not placed in his client trust account.

He also was charged with failing to file a medical-malpractice lawsuit on behalf of the couple’s daughter, agreeing to handle the matter despite no prior experience in such cases, and failing to create a written contingency fee agreement.

The complaint further alleges that in 2016, Leon had consensual sex in his office on at least three occasions with his female client from Urban after previously exchanging “sexts” that sometimes reached up to 100 a day. Lawyers are forbidden from sexual activity with clients unless a consensual relationship existed prior to handling legal work on their behalf.

Leon admitted most of the charges against him, including the sexual encounter.

Midian disputes Columbus Bar Association charges that he failed to provide competent representation, charged an excessive fee, failed to create a written fee agreement and improperly split client funds with a lawyer from another firm.

The charges claim that Midian agreed to file a motion to vacate or amend the workers-compensation fraud conviction of a Mahoning County psychiatrist he had not previously represented.

The client paid $25,000 to Midian, who asked a friend with little criminal law experience to write what was a legally flawed motion to vacate the conviction that threatened the client’s interests, the charges said. Midian repaid $17,500 to the client more than a year after the complaint was filed against him.

Following hearings, a three-member panel will recommend to the Ohio Supreme Court what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken against Leon and Midian.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow

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