On Monday, January 29, 2024, the Toledo Bar Association filed a formal complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio against attorney Patricia Horner.

The case is entitled “Toledo Bar Association v. Patricia Horner,” with case no. 2024-003.

The charges cited Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 and 1.4(a)(3), which states:

A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Horner, who has been licensed to practice law in Ohio since 1988, did not adequately represent her client Shawn Hawkins, an inmate serving a life sentence. Hawkins had reached out to Ms. Horner in February 2023 regarding potential legal claims against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for failure to provide proper medical care for a foot injury.

According to the complaint, Ms. Horner obtained signed contracts and medical record release forms from Hawkins but failed to obtain the necessary records from the appropriate medical providers. The complaint states Ms. Horner communicated a few times with another attorney who was previously involved with Hawkins’ case but did not make efforts to gather further records or investigate the potential legal claims.

Communication between Ms. Horner and Hawkins reportedly stopped in May 2023, after the prison system changed its email system. The complaint alleges Hawkins and others unsuccessfully tried to contact Ms. Horner multiple times after that point. Hawkins eventually filed a grievance with the Toledo Bar Association in July 2023.

The complaint charges Ms. Horner with lack of diligence and failure to properly communicate with her client regarding the status of the case, in violation of Ohio rules for professional conduct.

The complaint states:

“WHEREFORE, pursuant to Gov. Bar R. V and the Rules of Professional Conduct, Relator alleges that Respondent is chargeable with misconduct, and Relator requests that Respondent be disciplined pursuant to Rule V of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio.”

According to avvo.com, Ms. Horner is a commercial attorney in Toledo, Ohio. She attended the Washburn University School of Law, graduating in 1987. She acquired her law license in Ohio in 1988.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.