WARREN - Three local attorneys face possible sanctions by the Ohio Supreme Court following separate investigations and recommendations by the disciplinary arm of the state's highest court.
Attorneys Joseph Ohlin, Gary Braun and John Large all have been disciplined in the past by the court.
Accusations against Large have include taking fees from clients without doing the work and continuing to work on a case after a client tried to terminate him. Accusations against Braun included handling legal matters without proper preparation, and against Ohlin included not notifying clients when cases were settled.
Each lawyer soon will receive notification of current allegations and recommended sanctions. They then have 20 days to file objections with the report and challenge the recommendations in front of Supreme Court justices, according to Richard Dove, secretary of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.
In the case of Ohlin and Braun, who never responded to the allegations, their default judgment cases can go back to the board for a determination on mitigating or aggravating factors that can affect the level of discipline.
In Large's case, a three-member panel heard evidence in the case in January before recommending a two-year suspension from practicing law, with six months of the term stayed.
Large's attorney, John Juhasz, argued that two of the four counts incorporated in his allegations should be dismissed because they weren't filed in time. The board overruled that motion. Juhasz argued for a stayed suspension with conditions that he practice with an active mentor and take law office management courses.
A representative for Large advised that he was unavailable for comment since the allegations were still pending. Attempts to reach Braun for comment were unsuccessful. No phone listing could be located for Ohlin.
The board found seven aggravating factors against Large, including his prior one-year suspension for failing to pay income taxes and report employee wages in 2009 and testimony that the board said lacked truthfulness during his hearing.
The board cited selfish motives when Large filed a divorce action for a woman in Lake County after she had fired him and after he received a $2,000 retainer. Large attempted to continue the relationship despite the client's desire to terminate, according to a report.
Large delayed in returning her retainer and file.
The report also said Large received the grievance from the local bar association Dec. 17, 2008, and although it was received, he didn't open the correspondence until February of 2009.
Large failed to inform a client in a bankruptcy case that he was suspended from his practice May 6, 2009. And besides never filing the bankruptcy, Large waited 11 weeks before advising the client to get another lawyer. He didn't return the retainer until April 22, 2010.
The board said Large, who started practicing law in 1997, took fees from three clients and did not perform the work. They also said he failed to cooperate with the disciplinary process, including neglecting letters and requests from investigators.
In Braun's case, an indefinite suspension was recommended, requiring him to reapply again after not practicing for at least two years.
Braun, who started practicing in 1983, received a one-year suspension with six months stayed in September of 2000 for misconduct in the form of ''handling legal matters without proper preparation, neglect of entrusted legal matters, failure to seek lawful objectives of clients and to carry out contracts of employment for professional services.''
The board said Braun was reinstated in 2006, but was sanctioned again in 2008 for not completing the required number of continuing professional education hours.
Braun, the board said, didn't respond to any of their questions about a grievance by a man who gave Braun $250 to file divorce action in Trumbull County before his estranged wife filed similar action in Fulton County.
Braun failed to return calls to the client and by October of 2009, the wife established venue in the other county after filing the action first, the board said. Later in the year, the client had to get new counsel to fight the matter in Fulton County.
Afterward, the wife filed a criminal complaint against the client for telephone harassment and problems over visitation. When the client was arrested and reached Braun by phone, the attorney failed to appear for an arraignment as promised and against failed to return phone calls, the board said.
In the case of Ohlin, the Trumbull County Bar Association recommended an indefinite suspension, but the master commissioner for the board overruled the bar and recommended permanent disbarment.
The report indicates that Ohlin was indefinitely suspended Aug. 24, 2010, and allegations against him occurred before that date but were filed so some clients could receive reimbursement through a state fund that compensates clients who were victimized by their attorneys.
Ohlin's case involves six different cases, mostly involving personal injury cases.
In one case, Ohlin never notified the client he voluntarily dismissed the personal injury case and then never re-filed the complaint, according to the complaints.
In another case, Ohlin settled a case and dismissed it. The client never received any money and when she went to find Ohlin, she found that his office was closed, according to the complaints.
After a third client never received the proper amount of money from a settlement, all the telephone calls to Ohlin ''went to voicemail and the voicemail box was so full they could not leave a message,'' the complaints state.
In another case, Ohlin failed to return a retained to a client that he clearly never represented, the board said.
The board cited various aggravating factors in Ohlin's case, including dishonest or selfish motives, a pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, lack of cooperation in the disciplinary process, refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct, vulnerability of and resulting harm to the victims of the misconduct and failure to make restitution.''