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Legal Ethics

Lawyer seeks to retain his license, despite affair with wife of client on trial for murder

Posted Nov 6, 2013 7:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Columbus, Ohio, lawyer James Owen hopes to retain his law license despite having an affair in 1997 with the wife of a client on trial for murder.

The affair came to light two years ago, resulting in a new trial for the client, Robert Caulley, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Caulley maintains the conviction was based on his coerced confession and he is innocent of the murder of his parents, the story says.

At a hearing before an ethics panel Monday, Owen made “an impassioned plea to keep his law license,” the story says.

Owen said he knew his conduct was wrong, and he acknowledged having sex with the woman on the night of Caulley’s conviction. He says he still worked very hard on Caulley’s case.

Owen’s therapist said the lawyer has severe attention deficit disorder, which can lead to impulsive actions without thinking through the consequences. She said Owen “was shaken to his core by remorse” and he is now on medication and undergoing regular therapy.

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