Attorney gets 18-month license suspension
Mark Joseph Lavelle failed to prepare documents in one case, the court added.
By MICHELE C. HLADIK
COLUMBUS -- Youngstown lawyer Mark Joseph Lavelle was suspended from practicing law in Ohio for 18 months by the Ohio Supreme Court with 12 months of the suspension stayed if certain conditions are met.
The conditions are that a monitor be appointed by the Mahoning County Bar Association and that "Lavelle fully comply with any terms imposed by the monitor during the stayed portion of the suspension," the high court's decision read.
The high court found that Lavelle neglected to prepare documents for marriage dissolution for one client and neglected to properly supervise his staff with another client.
The second case reportedly resulted in the preparation of legal documents that included a false signature, improper notarizations, altered dates, and inclusion of a fictitious case number and court stamp in a document that had never been filed in court.
"Whatever safeguards respondent may have established to ensure that his office functioned properly and professionally were clearly inadequate," the decision read. "He, at best, chose to remain oblivious to the improper actions of the persons he hired, thereby violating the trust that his clients and others placed in him and his office staff."
The Supreme Court also found that Lavelle failed to respond to three written notices he received from the county bar association regarding the issues against him and violated a state bar association governance rule requiring attorneys to cooperate with disciplinary investigations.
"[Lavelle's] tardiness in responding to the grievance is inexcusable for a member of the legal profession," the decision read. "His lack of diligence and his blatant disregard of the deadlines set by the bar association for replying to the ... grievance showed a lack of respect for the grievance-investigation process and a lack of courtesy for his fellow bar members in Mahoning County."
The court also wrote that "a lawyer accused of misconduct by a client owes that client and any investigating authorities a complete and timely response. Anything less reflects poorly on our system of justice and the legal profession."