Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Lawyer's ouster sought in transracial-adoption case




BY BEN L. KAUFMAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A lawyer in the dispute over Hamilton County transracial adoptions has moved to disqualify an opposing attorney because he is “for all practical purposes” married to his client.

        The motion says the client — identified as John Doe — is attorney Scott Greenwood's partner and that creates impermissible conflicts of interest for several reasons:

        • Mr. Greenwood's professional judgment is clouded by that intimate relationship.

        • Mr. Greenwood has a financial interest in the outcome of the case because both men “are looking a quick payday on the backs of African-American children.”

        • Mr. Greenwood could be called as a defense witness if John Doe tries to prove damages.

        In addition to raising the racial issue, the motion complains that Mr. Greenwood and John Doe are attempting “to use this litigation to lay the groundwork for gay couple adoptions.”

        The case began in April 1999, when Mr. Greenwood and Alphonse A. Gerhardstein sued the county and individual officials for $2 million damages on behalf of John Doe.

        John Doe says he lost his job as a social worker in the adoption unit at Hamilton County Department of Human Services after complaining that colleagues delayed or denied the adoption of black children by white adults.

        In May 1999, the lawyers amended that complaint to make it a class action, adding whites who say they had race- based problems trying to adopt black children in Hamilton County.

        Defendants all denied any wrongdoing. However, the county is negotiating with its accusers on modifications in the adoption program.

        The disqualification motion was filed Friday on behalf of defendant adoption supervisor and co-defendant Carol Wheeler-Strother by attorney Ross A. Wright, a member of the Taft, Stettinius & Hollister law firm, where Mr. Greenwood once worked. Mr. Gerhardstein said Tuesday that Mr. Greenwood would not comment on the accusations, but Mr. Gerhardstein called the motion “outrageous.”

        Mr. Greenwood's response was found in a written answer filed with U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber.

        He and Mr. Gerhardstein accused Mr. Wright of filing “false and discriminatory allegations ... which violate the basic rule for practice in this judicial district: civility.”

        They both hope for fees in this contingency case, but noted that Mr. Wright sought only to disqualify Mr. Greenwood, who is openly gay.

        The written response also accused Mr. Wright of quoting court precedents incompletely and out of context and failing to identify an ethical violation or conflict of interest.

        Should a conflict arise, Mr. Greenwood would step aside and Mr. Gerhardstein would carry on, the lawyers said.

        Mr. Greenwood and his client live together in a jointly owned home, Mr. Wright said, and Mr. Greenwood “will inevitably benefit” from any damages obtained by his client.

       



Area wins big in capital plan
Markets rebound from rout
Valuable violin goes to auction
DNA helps find African roots
Many Ohioans find e-returns less taxing
Faux fax fails to free Ohio strangler
Her dying words accuses husband
Court upholds ruling in Culberson case
Getting Son of Beast ready to roll
Stories, razzing and affection are a lunchtime ritual for father and sons
Video guru gets jump on HDTV with 'Water's Edge'
A Journey of faith
CFT sues charter schools
Child support system changing
Angela Cook earns respect of all
Driver jailed and fired
Ex-board member: Charter school regulations lax
Four schools sued by teachers union
GET TO IT
Guardsmen come home today
Health issues event focuses on minorities
- Lawyer's ouster sought in transracial-adoption case
Loveland group pushing to save park
Math course moves along step by step
Miami groups build dreams
Miami University job fair popular among employers
Middletown board debate boils over
Pete Rose's mother dies
Plan to move Fenwick forums' focus
Planning office expected to return
Rogers won't appeal testing requirement
Tenant charged in death of woman
Tristate News Summary
Warren schools lose administrator
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book