On Friday, January 12, 2024, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted the resignation of attorney Dorothea Jane Kingsbury amid disciplinary proceedings against her, with one justice dissenting.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Dorothea Jane Kingsbury,” with case no. 2024-Ohio-90.

Kingsbury had sought permission to resign from practicing law in Ohio under Gov. Bar R. VI(11), which allows resignations while disciplinary action is pending. A majority of the justices approved her resignation.

However, Justice Patrick F. Fischer dissented from the decision. In his dissenting opinion, Fischer argued that the court should deny resignation requests from attorneys who owe restitution to clients, as allowing resignation benefits the attorney at the expense of victims.

Fischer was unable to disclose full details of the confidential disciplinary case against Kingsbury, but public records showed troubling information. In 2019, Kingsbury was indicted on charges of theft, telecommunications fraud, and money laundering for allegedly stealing large sums from elderly and disabled clients.

She later pled guilty to attempted theft, theft, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. In 2023, an Ohio court sentenced Kingsbury to four years in prison and ordered her to pay $750,000 in restitution to victims. So far, she has only paid $125,000 while the Ohio Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection has reimbursed two victims over $200,000 total.

In his dissent, Fischer noted that Kingsbury still owes over $600,000 in court-ordered restitution. He argued the court should deny her resignation to require her to make victims whole through the disciplinary process. Accepting the resignation benefits only Kingsbury by allowing her to avoid further oversight, while her victims and the Lawyers’ Fund take on the financial burden, in Fischer’s view.

The majority approved Kingsbury’s resignation, but her criminal convictions, unpaid restitution, and Justice Fischer’s strong dissent illustrate the complex issues that can arise when attorneys in debt to clients seek to resign from practicing law while disciplinary actions remain pending.

According to avvo.com, Ms. Dorothea was a business attorney in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended the Cleveland State University – Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, graduating in 1981. She acquired her law license in Ohio in the same year.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.