Legal Ethics

Ohio lawyer who participated in sexting exchange with matrimonial client is suspended

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An Ohio lawyer has been suspended from practice for a year by the state’s top court, with six months stayed, for participating in a sexually charged exchange of text messages with a matrimonial client.

The texts, which were “mutual, reciprocal and very explicit and graphic,” according to records in the case, violated an attorney ethics rule that bans a lawyer from soliciting or engaging in sexual activity with a client, except when a consensual sexual relationship predates the lawyer-client relationship, according to Civitas Media and the Toledo Blade.

Because sole practitioner N. Shannon Bartels had previously been reprimanded in 2010 for having a sexual relationship with a client, a suspension was the appropriate penalty for the text messages at issue in this case, the Ohio Supreme Court said in its Tuesday written opinion (PDF).

Two dissenting judges said the entire one-year-suspension should have been stayed.

The news articles don’t include any comment from Bartels or her legal counsel.

Related coverage: “Ethics complaint accuses lawyer of sexting with client later accused in extortion plot”

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