The Ohio Supreme Court has suspended a Lima attorney for sexting with a client.
On Tuesday, June 14, the Court issued an opinion suspending N. Shannon Bartels from the practice of law for one year, with six months of the suspension stayed on the condition that Bartels complete a CLE study, pay all costs, commit no further misconduct and serve probation for a year.
The case arose from Bartels’ representation of a client in a divorce matter. Bartels and her client exchanged sexually oriented text messages, although they did not have a sexual relationship. The client later threatened to forward Bartels’ texts to the disciplinary authorities if Bartels didn’t refund several thousand dollars in legal fees. Bartels reported the extortion attempt to the Allen County Sheriff’s office, and the client was eventually indicted and convicted of obstructing justice.
Before the Board of Professional Conduct, Bartels stipulated that her conduct violated Rule 1.8(j). The parties recommended a one-year suspension with the entire year stayed. However, the Board recommended that only six months of the year be stayed, and the Supreme Court agreed, in part because Bartels had violated the same rule twice in five years.
The opinion is here.