Dayton Bar Association v. Parisi
Ohio Supreme Court
131 Ohio St. 3d 345, 965 N.E.2d 268 (2012)
Sylvia Demming, a 93-year-old woman, alleged that she was being held in a nursing home against her will. Demming engaged attorney Georgianna Parisi (defendant) to represent her. Demming suffered confusion, disorientation, and memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease. Parisi applied for guardianship of Demming, alleging that Demming was incompetent. While her guardianship application was pending, Parisi had Demming sign a durable power of attorney making Parisi her attorney-in-fact. Parisi then withdrew her guardianship application and filed another on behalf of Demming’s niece. Parisi learned that Demming planned to move to Florida and notified the probate court, but the court did not dismiss the guardianship proceeding. Parisi billed Demming’s niece for legal fees and, acting as Demming’s attorney-in-fact and without obtaining the probate court’s approval, Parisi paid herself over $18,000 for legal services she had rendered Demming. The probate court removed Parisi as counsel to Demming and Demming’s niece, and Parisi returned the $18,000 to Demming’s account. However, the Dayton Bar Association (plaintiff) initiated disciplinary proceedings. The disciplinary board found that Parisi had created a conflict of interest in representing Demming and her niece and had engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by paying her own legal fees while acting as Demming’s attorney-in-fact. The board recommended to the Ohio Supreme Court that Parisi’s law license be suspended for six months but that the suspension be stayed if Parisi engaged in no other misconduct. Parisi challenged the board’s recommendation, arguing that concurrent representation of a ward and applicant for guardianship does not create a conflict of interest.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Concurrence/Dissent (Cupp, J.)
Dissent (Lanzinger, J.)
Dissent (O’Connor, C.J.)
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