Saturday, April 01, 2000

Local bar decides merit of complaints

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Edwin Patterson's office is the first stop for anyone with a complaint about a lawyer.

        As general counsel for the Cincinnati Bar Association, it's his job to listen to every gripe, rant or accusation from the public.

        My lawyer never visited me in jail ... My lawyer forgot to file my appeal ... My lawyer stole my money. The hundreds of complaints he fields every year are among the 7,879 reported statewide in 1998.

        Mr. Patterson is responsible for deciding which of the complaints may have merit, and which come from clients who just don't like the way their cases turned out. Almost half are dismissed right away.

        If a complaint survives the first review, the bar association takes a closer look and may refer it to the Ohio Supreme Court. The court's board on grievances and discipline then holds a hearing before dismissing the case or taking action.

        Lawyers investigated during the past year include:

        • Kenneth Schachleiter, 58, of Colerain Township: He pleaded guilty to taking money from the estate of a client over a 19-month period.

        • Doris Houser Allen, 52, of Walnut Hills: She faces one year in prison for filing an affidavit that made false charges against a client's boyfriend. The boyfriend spent a night in jail.

        • Michael Edwards, 51, of West Chester: He has until May 16 to pay back thousands of dollars he took from a client's estate or face six months in jail.

        • Ronald Bradley, 41, of Madeira: He pleaded guilty to withdrawing about $25,000 from a client's account. He paid back the money but faces up to 18 months in jail.

        If you have questions or concerns about an attorney's conduct, call the grievance committee at 381-8213.


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