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Cleveland lawyer captured on tape coaching client to lie loses law license

October 11, 2018

Cleveland lawyer captured on tape coaching client to lie loses law license

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the law license of a Cleveland attorney captured on audio recording telling his client to lie while under oath and bragging about ghosting an opposing lawyer.

Steven Moody’s behavior in a 2015 employment discrimination lawsuit against PNC bank amounted to gender disparagement and raised questions about his integrity, the court’s 5-2 per curiam opinion said.

The majority, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and justice Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon Kennedy, Patrick Fischer and Mary DeGenaro, voted to suspend Moody’s license indefinitely.

The two dissenting justices, Judith French and Patrick DeWine, would have suspended Moody’s license for two years.

Attempts to reach Moody Thursday were unsuccessful.

Moody represented a former employee of PNC who hired Moody to represent him in an employment discrimination against the bank in 2015, according to the court’s opinion.

The bank’s lawyer, who was based in Boston, sent Moody a request for discovery and scheduled a time for her to fly to Cleveland and take Moody’s client’s deposition.

But Moody didn’t respond to the requests for discovery, and also never told his client about the deposition, the court found. The bank’s lawyer came to town, but neither Moody nor his client showed up, the opinion said. 

Moody’s client began to suspect Moody wasn’t handling his case properly and secretly recorded a meeting before his deposition.

The recording captured Moody as he bragged about “playing a game” with PNC’s lawyer by ignoring her requests, called her an “arrogant b---h,” and told his client to lie during his deposition and say that Moody did tell him about the scheduled deposition, the opinion said.

The client ended up firing Moody and dropping his lawsuit, then filing a complaint with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association in 2017.

Moody defended his actions in his disciplinary hearing by saying he was just “puffing” for his client, and that there’s no proof that what he told his client was actually true. He also claimed that he made exonerating statements and told his client not to lie in portions of the conversation that were not recorded.

But the court found that, even if Moody’s comments to his clients were in fact false bravado, “they raise questions about his integrity and his ability to conduct himself in a manner that engenders respect for the law and the profession.” 

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