On Thursday, September 28, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Cincinnati attorney Hugh Peter McCloskey Jr. from practicing law for one year, staying the entire suspension provided he commits no further misconduct. The disciplinary action stems from findings that McCloskey submitted inaccurate fee applications for his work as a court-appointed attorney.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Hugh Peter McCloskey Jr.,” with case number 2023-OHIO-3447.
McCloskey has worked as a sole practitioner, specializing primarily in court-appointed criminal defense cases for indigent clients in Hamilton County. He was compensated $50-60 per hour for this work. When cases concluded, McCloskey would submit fee applications to the court listing dates and hours worked on each case. However, he did not use a formal time-tracking system and often estimated dates and hours based on case files.
A 2021 audit by the Ohio Public Defender’s Office found serious discrepancies in McCloskey’s billing. On several dates, he claimed to have worked over 24 hours in a single day. He also reported impossible amounts of time spent in court on specific dates. While McCloskey maintained he performed all the work listed, he admitted his fee applications did not accurately reflect when the work was done.
In December 2022, McCloskey voluntarily refunded $6,430 to Hamilton County for hours billed over 16 hours per day during the audit period. He also took responsibility for submitting inaccurate billing records. The parties stipulated McCloskey had no intention to overbill and likely underreported his total workload.
The Ohio Supreme Court found McCloskey’s conduct violated Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(c), which prohibits dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. Significant mitigating factors included McCloskey’s clean disciplinary record, cooperation in the investigation, and steps taken to rectify the issue. Given similar facts to a 2006 case where a public reprimand was issued, the Court agreed with the recommended sanction of a conditionally-stayed one-year suspension.
The order reads:
“Accordingly, Hugh Peter McCloskey Jr. is hereby suspended from the practice of law in Ohio for one year, with the entire suspension stayed on the condition that he commit no further misconduct. If McCloskey fails to comply with the condition of the stay, the stay will be revoked and he will be required to serve a one-year suspension. Costs are taxed to McCloskey.”
According to Avvo, Mr. McCloskey is a criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended the University of Dayton School of Law, graduating in 2000. He acquired his law license in Ohio in 2000.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.