The Ohio Supreme Court delivered a six-month stayed suspension to attorney C. Ralph Wilcoxson II for allegations he didn’t do enough to represent a client in a racial discrimination lawsuit.
The decision echoed the recommendation of the Board of Professional Conduct, which found mitigating factors including “no prior discipline, absence of a selfish or dishonest motive and good character and reputation.”
The court voted 6-0 to suspend Wilcoxson, but he will not serve that suspension on the condition he not violate any rule governing the conduct of Ohio lawyers. Justice Mary DeGenaro did not hear the case.
In its opinion, the court adopted a “consent to discipline” reached between the Dayton Bar Association and Wilcoxson and approved by the Board of Professional Conduct.
Wilcoxson worked as a Montgomery County Juvenile Court magistrate from 1998 to 2010, including a decade as chief magistrate. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for a Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge position against Jeff Rezabek in the May 2018 primary.
The complaint against Wilcoxson was brought by Timothy Sawyer of Dayton, who alleged Wilcoxson neglected to adequately represent him in a racial discrimination case from late 2014.
The complaint said Wilcoxson didn’t timely file court documents, which led to the case being dismissed from Dayton’s U.S. District Court.
Wilcoxson didn’t inform his client of the case being dismissed and didn’t provide documents to Sawyer’s new attorney, according to the complaint.
During investigation of the claim, an attorney appointed by the Dayton Bar Association wrote that Wilcoxson didn’t respond to repeated requests for information.
The bar association charged Wilcoxson with multiple ethical violations in 2017 arising from the 2014 case. The Supreme Court imposed the interim default suspension in June 2017. Three days later, Wilcoxson asked the court for him to be allowed to respond to the complaint and for the court to vacate the suspension.
The court granted the request, remanded the case to the board for further proceedings and reinstated Wilcoxson to the practice of law pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.
The sides agreed that Wilcoxson failed to act with reasonable diligence when representing a client or keep the client informed of the case’s status.
The court agreed that the six-month stayed suspension is “the appropriate sanction for the misconduct.”