Legal Ethics

Lawyer's request that client meet him at her home naked results in license suspension

An Ohio lawyer has had his license suspended for a year, with six months stayed, after admittedly asking a client to meet him at the door of her home naked.

Even after the woman rejected his suggestion that she could make “other arrangements” concerning his legal fees in a child custody matter, Edward Royal Bunstine stopped by her home anyway, according to the woman’s testimony in an attorney disciplinary case and court documents. He was met there not only by the fully dressed woman, but by her fiance and her fiance’s father.

Bunstine contended that he made the suggestion that his client greet him in the nude only after the woman had invited him to her home, and said she read too much into the comment by assuming that he had intended it as a sexual proposition. He also denied that he had suggested sex in payment of his legal fees, and said he’d gone to the woman’s home to get documents and photos he needed for the child-custody case, recounts the Ohio Supreme Court in a Wednesday opinion (PDF) imposing the suspension.

It found that a panel of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline had appropriately credited the client’s testimony and agreed that Bunstine’s behavior violated attorney ethics rules against soliciting sex from a client with whom no consensual relationship existed prior to the legal matter, and engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on an attorney’s fitness to practice law.

Hat tip: Chillicothe Gazette.

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