Legal Ethics

Former prosecutor is suspended for adding charge to indictment

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A former prosecutor in Ohio has had his law license suspended for a year because he added a charge to a criminal indictment and then signed the document.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the suspension for the former Butler County prosecutor, Jason Phillabaum of Cincinnati, report the Legal Profession Blog, the Cincinnati Enquirer and WLWT5.

According to the supreme court decision (PDF), Phillabaum reviewed a grand jury indictment in December 2010 and told a legal assistant to add a gun charge. A different prosecutor had obtained the indictment for aggravated robbery and felonious assault, and he refused to sign the altered document.

Phillabaum signed the indictment, which was later replaced with a superseding indictment after the County Prosecutor learned of Phillabaum’s conduct.

Phillabaum pleaded guilty in 2013 to a misdemeanor, dereliction of duty, for his actions in the case. He avoided a 90-day jail sentence by serving community service and successfully completing probation.

Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline had recommended a suspension of one year, with six months stayed on the condition Phillabaum engage in no further misconduct. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the recommendation and imposed a one-year suspension with no stay. Two dissenting justices would have adopted the recommended suspension.

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