Columbus Bar Assn. v. LaFayette (Slip Opinion)

[Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as Columbus Bar Assn. v. LaFayette, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-9205.] NOTICE This slip opinion is subject to formal revision before it is published in an advance sheet of the Ohio Official Reports. Readers are requested to promptly notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 South Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, of any typographical or other formal errors in the opinion, in order that corrections may be made before the opinion is published. SLIP OPINION NO. 2017-OHIO-9205 COLUMBUS BAR ASSOCIATION v. LAFAYETTE. [Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it may be cited as Columbus Bar Assn. v. LaFayette, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-9205.] Failure to provide competent representation—Failure to act diligently—Failure to inform client of lack of liability insurance—Six-month suspension stayed on condition. (No. 2015-2010—Submitted August 29, 2017—Decided December 28, 2017.) ON CERTIFIED REPORT by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2015-052. _______________________ Per Curiam. {¶ 1} Respondent, Eric Lee LaFayette, of Gahanna, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0077662, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2004. The Board of Professional Conduct recommends that we suspend him from the practice SUPREME COURT OF OHIO of law for six months, with the entire suspension stayed. For the reasons explained below, we adopt the board’s recommended sanction. Procedural Background {¶ 2} In 2015, relator, Columbus Bar Association, charged LaFayette with professional misconduct for, among other things, failing to provide competent representation in two client matters and, in one of those cases, filing court documents on which he had forged his client’s signature. The parties initially entered into a consent-to-discipline agreement recommending that we sanction LaFayette with a conditionally stayed one-year suspension. Although the board accepted the agreement, we rejected the recommended sanction and remanded to the board for further proceedings, including consideration of a more severe sanction. Columbus Bar Assn. v. LaFayette, 146 Ohio St.3d 1485, 2016-Ohio- 5529, 57 N.E.3d 1166. {¶ 3} On remand, relator amended its complaint and withdrew the allegation that LaFayette had filed forged court documents. LaFayette stipulated to most of the charged misconduct in the amended complaint, and after a hearing, the board issued a report finding that he engaged in the stipulated misconduct. In its report, the board noted that relator’s additional investigation on remand resulted in a conclusion that LaFayette’s conduct had not amounted to forgery. For that reason, the board recommended that we sanction him with a stayed six-month suspension―a lesser sanction than it had previously endorsed when approving the parties’ consent-to-discipline agreement. The parties do not object to the board’s report and recommendation. Misconduct {¶ 4} LaFayette is a solo practitioner in Franklin County, and this matter commenced after his mishandling of two separate client matters. 2 January Term, 2017 Count One—the Rapalo Enamorado matter {¶ 5} According to the parties’ stipulations, Abel Rapalo Enamorado, a Honduras citizen, entered the United States without authorization or documentation ...

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