LIMA — A three-member panel of the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio will hold a formal hearing and will issue a ruling on sanctions recommended against a Lima attorney amid allegations of misconduct.
According to public documents, Attorney Jerome “Jerry” Doute allegedly fabricated and back-dated a letter advising a client to appear for an arraignment date earlier this year, and he allegedly lied to an Allen County judge when that client failed to attend that hearing.
According to documents filed, the individual was indicted in Allen County in April of last year on a single count of possession of cocaine, and Doute was appointed as his legal counsel. On May 24, that defendant failed to appear for a scheduled arraignment hearing.
According to the complaint, Doute told Judge Terri Kohlrieser that he had not personally spoken with the defendant but that his legal assistant had sent a letter that included a request for the client to schedule a time to meet with him. Doute allegedly said he was uncertain if the letter contained the arraignment date.
The judge did not immediately issue a bench warrant to the defendant for failing to appear but did instruct her secretary to call Doute’s office to check on the aforementioned letter, which was not found in the man’s file.
Doute, according to the disciplinary counsel complaint, independently reviewed the file in question and determined that his office had not sent a letter advising the defendant of the arraignment hearing.
The complaint says Doute then “fabricated” and back-dated a letter to his client. The complaint reached that conclusion because Doute’s legal assistant reportedly saw the fabricated letter on her keyboard and believed something to be amiss. She allegedly contacted Doute’s law partner, who confirmed that the letter had been created after the missed arraignment hearing.
Doute reportedly initially denied fabricating the letter but later admitted he had done so. Doute, at the urging of his law partner, then drafted a letter to the judge taking responsibility for his actions.
The disciplinary complaint alleges that Doute violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by making a false statement to the judge, by fabricating the letter and by exposing his client to a potential bench warrant.
Documents show that Doute has not been previously disciplined.
Danielle Parker, Tad Harold and Hon. Joseph Gibson, members of the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio, will hear arguments in the case against Doute in a hearing scheduled for Aug. 17 in Columbus.