Lawyer's 'pants are charred' from lies, state supreme court says; prior panties accusation made headlines

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An Ohio attorney once described as the “prosecutor’s panties” lawyer by the Columbus Dispatch has been disbarred for practicing law while suspended after having sex with a client.

The Ohio Supreme Court disbarred Columbus, Ohio, lawyer Jason Sarver in a Dec. 2 opinion that said Sarver had told repeated lies in two disciplinary cases.

“We can only assume that Sarver’s ‘pants are charred’ from the number of falsehoods that he has perpetuated,” the Ohio Supreme Court said.

The Columbus Dispatch and Court News Ohio have coverage.

In the first case, Sarver had been suspended in November 2018 for two years, with 18 months conditionally stayed, for engaging in a sexual relationship with an indigent client in a criminal case and lying about the relationship to a judge.

In the second case, Sarver was accused of continuing to handle a wrongful death case after his suspension took effect. He didn’t notify the client, the insurance company or the probate court of his suspension, the Ohio Supreme Court said. Yet he filed an affidavit saying he had complied with the suspension order.

He was also accused of forging his client’s name on the settlement check, paying himself legal fees, and distributing funds without probate court approval. He also falsely stated that the client authorized him to sign the check, and that a magistrate led him to think he could disburse some of the proceeds, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Sarver made headlines in 2012 after Hocking County, Ohio, prosecutor Laina Fetherolf claimed that Sarver was spreading false information about a courtroom wardrobe malfunction. Sarver was Fetherolf’s election opponent, and the prosecutor filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission, according to earlier coverage by the Atlantic and the Columbus Dispatch.

According to Fetherolf, Sarver was telling others that she once wore dark panties under a light-colored dress in the courtroom, causing snickering. As Sarver allegedly told the story, the prosecutor removed her panties in a restroom, then returned to the courtroom, placed her panties on the bench, and told the judge, “Problem solved.”

Fetherolf said the story was false and defamatory.

The election commission tossed the complaint because Sarver’s alleged claim was not made publicly or included in election material. The judge supported the prosecutor, saying, “No panties have ever been placed on my bench by anyone.”

Sarver did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal request for comment left with a person who answered his office phone number.

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