On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a two-year suspension, with one year conditionally stayed, to attorney Gregory Erwin Carter for violating the rules of professional conduct. The suspension was handed down after a hearing before a three-member panel of the Board of Professional Conduct, where Carter was found to have engaged in misconduct, including mishandling of client funds, sexual conduct with a client’s mother, and false statements to a law-enforcement officer.
The case is entitled “Disciplinary Counsel v. Gregory Erwin Carter,” with case no. 2023-Ohio-3992.
The charges cited Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), 8.4(c) and 8.4(h).
Requiring a lawyer to hold the property of clients in an interest-bearing client trust account, separately from the lawyer’s own property.
Prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law, even though that conduct is not expressly prohibited by another rule.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
According to the filing, Carter represented an incarcerated client named Eric McClain who was seeking judicial release in early 2020. Carter met with McClain’s mother Debbie Fabian and the mother of McClain’s child, J.G., to discuss the case. Fabian paid Carter a $500 flat fee to prepare and file motions for judicial release.
In July 2020, Carter solicited a meeting with J.G. alone at his law office under the guise of discussing McClain’s case further. During the meeting, Carter read drafts of the motions to J.G. and then asked for a “reward” for his legal work. A disciplinary panel found that Carter then forced J.G. to perform a sexual act against her will.
When the motions for judicial release were denied by the court, J.G. disclosed Carter’s misconduct to McClain in February 2021. McClain then filed a complaint against Carter with the Licking County Bar Association. The Newark Police Department opened an investigation into the matter in April 2021.
During interviews with the investigating detective, Carter initially lied about having any sexual contact with J.G. But when confronted with evidence, he admitted the encounter had occurred but claimed it was consensual. In June 2022, relator disciplinary counsel filed a complaint charging Carter with misconduct.
After a hearing, a three-member disciplinary panel found Carter violated professional conduct rules regarding improper handling of client funds, dishonest conduct, and conduct reflecting poorly on his fitness to practice law. The Ohio Supreme Court accepted the findings and issued a two-year suspension to Carter, with one year stayed provided he avoids further misconduct. The court also mandated Carter complete continuing legal education on appropriate client relationships and sexual harassment training before being reinstated.
Carter had objected to the disciplinary findings and argued for a lesser sanction of a fully stayed six-month suspension. However, the court rejected his arguments and imposed the lengthier actual suspension, citing Carter’s exploitation of his client relationship and lack of remorse for his predatory behavior as demonstrated by his failure to acknowledge the seriousness of his actions.
The Disposition states:
“Accordingly, Gregory Erwin Carter is suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for two years with one year stayed on the condition that he commit no further misconduct. If Carter fails to comply with the condition of the stay, the stay will be lifted and he will serve the entire two-year suspension.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Carter is a criminal defense attorney in Newark, Ohio. He attended the Cleveland State University, graduating in 1986. He acquired his law license in Ohio in 1987.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.