Bar Discipline and Age-Associated Cognitive Decline

A recent Ohio Supreme Court case presented a use of disciplinary procedures to address a finding of misconduct rooted in the natural aging process. In Dayton Bar Assn. v O’Neal, the 71 year old respondent was given a two-year suspension with 18 months stayed on conditions after it was found that he had mishandled and neglected a client’s legal matters. A panel-appointed physician had diagnosed O’Neal with “age-associated cognitive decline,” which the respondent referred to as an explanation for his neglect of the client’s matters. In this case, the court found that the respondent’s cognitive decline was neither a mitigating factor nor did it qualify as a mental illness.

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One thought on “Bar Discipline and Age-Associated Cognitive Decline

  1. One of the more interesting aspects of this case is that the Court ordered the elder attorney to enter a monitoring contract with OLAP for an unspecified period of time. This demonstrates that the Supreme Court, in Ohio at least, has confidence that the LAP will be able to assist the attorney who is impaired by aging issues.

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