Suspended lawyer found in contempt
YOUNGSTOWN — The Ohio Supreme Court found Krishna James, 38, of Hubbard, in contempt of court for failing to show he’s in compliance with the court’s orders to notify his law practice clients that he is suspended from serving as an attorney.
The court earlier suspended James’ law license following several Jan. 1 incidents in New Castle, Pa., and earlier incidents in Trumbull County.
James is of Lewis Seifert Road in Hubbard, but he was in the Lawrence County jail unable to post $100,000 bond in February after he was charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of criminal trespass and six more charges of criminal trespass and prohibited discharge of a firearm.
A search of records for the Lawrence County jail indicates he no longer is locked up there, but he still has two pending criminal cases in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
On Feb. 14, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered James to show by March 16 why he should not be found in contempt of court for failing to comply with Ohio Supreme Court orders to file an affidavit of compliance.
A Jan. 21 filing with the high court from two lawyers with the Mahoning County Bar Association states the association filed its motion for interim remedial suspension after James was charged Jan. 1 in New Castle on allegations he entered the city’s fire station at 7:15 a.m. through a door that was damaged because of an earlier incident.
James is shown on surveillance video and was seen by three firefighters walking around the fire station picking up tools. He also had done more damage to the door with a hammer and ax, the filing states, using the ax to sever the cable that raises and lowers the door.
Firefighters told police James told them he was ready for the “coming siege.” Firefighters then discovered James had a pistol previously concealed in his jacket. He was escorted out of the building and left before police arrived.
At 8:08 a.m., police were called to the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership building on Grant Street in New Castle for an alarm call and found an unsecured door, two spent bullet shell casings and two bullet holes in the ceiling. Police determined from surveillance video that James had fired several shots at the alarm system.
Police said James then went to the McGonigle Ambulance station, where he tried to gain access but failed. He finally was located in a vehicle at another location.
Police confronted James, but he refused to comply with commands and identified himself as a lawyer from Ohio. After more noncompliance, officers fired two “less-lethal sponge rounds” at James and took him into custody. He was treated for minor injuries from the sponge bullets. A handgun was recovered from James’ vehicle.
The filing notes the bar association also became aware of several pending charges in Trumbull County. One is a felony drug-possession charge out of Girard from July 27, 2021, that was filed Jan. 3; and a felony drug-possession charge and misdemeanor drug-paraphernalia charge out of Liberty from Sept. 4, 2021, that were filed Jan. 11. Warrants were issued for his arrest on those charges.
The July incident involved a call for a man in the woods behind a cemetery and officers finding James near a vehicle that appeared to be stuck on a log. He declined the officers’ request that he come up the hill to their location and was arrested for trespassing.
Officers searched his vehicle and found two small bags of suspected methamphetamine and a naloxone strip. He later pleaded guilty in Girard Municipal Court to disorderly conduct. The felony drug-possession charge connected to the cemetery was filed two days after James’ arrest in New Castle.
In the Sept. 4, 2021, incident, the Liberty Police Department responded to a Dollar General store “in reference to a male in an altered state” and took James into custody on the warrant issued in the cemetery case.
Police found two small plastic bags containing a white, powdery substance in James’ vehicle, along with cut plastic straws and two rolls of burned tinfoil.
Although the bar association only recently has become aware of it, James “over the past six months, exhibited a striking pattern of conduct in which law enforcement is called to various locations to find (James) trespassing and in an altered mental state,” the filing states.
“Whether this altered mental state is a result of a mental disorder, a substance-abuse disorder, some other disorder or a combination of all of the above is unknown,” the filing, written by attorneys David Comstock Jr. and J. Michael Thompson, states.
An evaluation on James to determine whether he is competent to stand trial is pending, the filing states, citing information from a Lawrence County assistant district attorney.
“The Pennsylvania charges are especially serious,” the filing notes of the New Year’s Day events that included James carrying a gun.