COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Nov. 20 suspended former Ohio Attorney General Marc Edward Dunn's law license for six months as a result of misconduct that occurred during his tenure as attorney general.
Dann served as the Ohio Attorney General from Jan. 8, 2007, until his resignation on May 14, 2008.
He was charged in May 2010 with misdemeanor counts of soliciting improper compensation and filing false financial disclosures while he was attorney general.
He was found guilty of both counts, paid a small fine, and was ordered to perform community service.
As a result of the criminal charges, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline charged Dann with "engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice law."
Specifically, Dann hired two individuals for positions in the attorney general's office and provided both of them with free rental housing and associated benefits. Dann's campaign committee paid at least $7,178 in living expenses for one employee and over $30,000 in expenses for another. He also arranged an interest-free loan for one of the employees.
Additionally, while a candidate and elected official, Dann failed to disclose more than $17,000 in expense reimbursement checks on his required financial disclosures and failed to disclose that a campaign contributor and his companies paid $20,803.52 to lease a private jet that transported Dann, his two minor children and others to a Democratic Attorneys General Association seminar in January 2007.
An aggravating factor that the Board considered was that it had previously sanctioned Dann in 2004 for handling a legal matter without adequate preparation after a former client filed a grievance over Dann's alleged mishandling of a family law issue.
The Board recommended that the Court suspend Dann's license to practice law in Ohio for six months, but Dann objected to the recommended sanction. He argued that the Board did not appropriately weigh the applicable aggravating and mitigating factors and that a stayed suspension would be adequate.
The Court recognized that Dann provided "full and free disclosure to the disciplinary board, has displayed a cooperative attitude toward these proceedings, has established his good character and reputation apart from the charged misconduct, and has been subject to other penalties and sanctions through the criminal justice system."
However, the Court held, "Despite the presence of significant mitigating factors, two aggravating factors - Dann's prior discipline and his position as the state's attorney general at the time he committed his current misconduct - weigh in favor of a more severe sanction."