Court to lawyer: Explain yourself

WARREN – The Ohio Supreme Court announced Friday that a former Hubbard attorney has 20 days to explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for practicing law without a license.

In the meantime, justices say Richard LaCivita ”is hereby ordered to immediately cease to hold himself forth as an attorney, desist and refrain from the practice of law in any form and otherwise comply with this court’s Nov. 26, 2012, order.”

On that date, the court accepted LaCivita’s resignation and considered him resigned or retired with disciplinary action pending.

Last month, the Trumbull County Bar Association filed a formal complaint, claiming LaCivita has continued to practice out of his Associated Land Title Co. on West Liberty Street.

The complaint states that besides doing legal title work, LaCivita has routinely notarized numerous documents even though his notary commission has been revoked.

LaCivita has been charged in Girard Municipal Court with two counts of acting as a notary after his term expired – an unclassified misdemeanor. Those two cases are pending.

The bar complaint points out that once he retired, LaCivita was ordered to notify clients, return unworked fees, turn over files to clients or other lawyers and basically wind down his practice.

He was then supposed to file an affidavit showing he complied with the order, but no affidavit exists, according to the complaint. ”If such an affidavit had been filed, it would be false,” the complaint states.

LaCivita’s attorney John Juhasz said Friday he would be filing a response by the 20-day deadline.

Accompanying the complaint was an affidavit from a Hubbard couple, who say LaCivita handled a real estate closing for them in July even though he lost his right to act as an agent to issue title insurance.

The couple turned over nearly $70,000 that LaCivita told them was needed to close the deal and pay off a mortgage on the property. Instead, the couple was informed later they needed $27,000 to complete the deal and they had to come up with the additional money.

Another client who also claims LaCivita owes them money after a real estate deal is suing the former attorney.