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Geneva attorney suspended by Ohio Supreme Court

AshtabulaCurrent

Tom Brown is a candidate for Geneva Township trustee

Star Beacon

By MARK TODD mtodd@starbeacon.com

COLUMBUS_ A Geneva attorney has been indefinitely suspended from practicing law, according to information on the Ohio Supreme Court website.
The court, on Monday, entered an interim default suspension against Thomas C. Brown that requires him to “immediately cease and desist from the practice of law.” All seven justices concurred on the opinion.
The action comes less than one month after the court’s Board of Professional Conduct filed a certificate of default, claiming Brown failed to answer a formal complaint pending before the board, according to the website. The nature of the complaint was not described in the online announcement. Messages left with an Ohio Supreme Court spokesperson were not immediately returned Thursday.
Brown is seeking to be elected to a Geneva Township trustee position.
Brown, said Monday’s suspension order stemmed from a complaint filed against him in 2015 by the Ashtabula County Bar Association. That complaint alleged Brown inferred in some of his advertising a business relationship with his former law partner William O’Neill, now a member of the Ohio Supreme Court.
In an opinion issued in July, a majority of justices issued a two-year, stayed suspension against Brown. His license to practice law was not revoked.
In Monday’s opinion, justices agreed that Brown is prohibited from practicing law until he meets a number of conditions. Also, within 30 days from the date of Monday’s order Brown must:
• Notify all clients and co-counsel of the suspension
• Return to clients all papers and documents related to their cases
• Refund all fees and expenses paid in advance
• Notify opposing attorneys of his status
Brown said he is in the process of acquiring and delivering all the documentation required by the court and expects to be back to work soon.
“I should have (the suspension) lifted next week,” he said.

Brown admitted he did not answer the court’s request in a timely manner.
“Clearly I screwed up,” he said.
The interim default suspension was issued “simply to get my attention,” Brown said.
The sanctions issued in July followed a complaint by the county’s Bar Association that Brown erected a sign advertising his law firm as O’Neill and Brown Law Office and also distributed business cards bearing that name, even though he was the only employee, according to the court’s ruling on that matter. O’Neill and Brown practiced law together between 1981 and 1997.
In that case, the board originally recommended a six-month stayed suspension of Brown’s license to practice law, but changed that after reviewing Brown’s disciplinary record, which includes an interim suspension of his license 1999 that led to an indefinite suspension that continued into 2006 for violation of several rules. He was also given three brief suspensions for not following attorney registration requirements in 2005, 2009 and 2015.

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