Attorney’s license suspended

GIRARD – Attorney Robert Johnson said the Ohio Supreme Court’s order suspending his law license is a ”misunderstanding” and something he hopes can be resolved quickly.

The Supreme Court ordered the interim default suspension last week, claiming Johnson failed to file an answer to a formal complaint developing out of a Lorain County case.

A Supreme Court website also spells out allegations from a foreclosure case handled by Johnson for a local woman and pending in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court and another case in which Johnson represented a man in a divorce action.

”I’m puzzled by all of this. I’ve never had a case in Lorain. And I’ve never had anything filed against me in 25 years of practicing,” Johnson said Monday.

Johnson was replaced Feb. 1 as the prosecutor in Girard Municipal Court handling cases originating out of Girard. He had remained as the prosecutor in that court for cases originating out of Hubbard until the suspension.

Girard Municipal Judge Jeff Adler said Monday he is discussing the matter with Hubbard Law Director Mark Villano and hopes to resolve the issue quickly. The judge said only a few cases originating out of Hubbard are on his docket and none of them have to be heard immediately.

In the Lorain County allegation, the bar association said Johnson was overdrawn on his Chase trust account after an apparent settlement in a personal injury case.

Johnson said he was dragged into that case by working with an attorney he knew through law school. Johnson said the attorney surrendered his law license at some point during settlement negotiations that resulted in an agreement before any lawsuit was filed.

”I’m not trying to hide anything. This is a misunderstanding,” Johnson said.

He also said – contrary to the charges in the complaint – that he maintained contact with a client named Ralph P. Conti, who gave him a retainer but never got returned telephone calls for paperwork forwarded to him on a divorce action.

Similar allegations are contained in the complaint regarding a Tammy Heslop, who hired Johnson for a foreclosure action.

Girard Law Director Brian Kren said Monday he was thankful and appreciative for Johnson’s 18 years of service for the court. Kren declined to comment on any pending allegations against Johnson, who he replaced earlier this year.