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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2012

Lawyer testifies in ethics hearing


A local lawyer testified in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on Monday during a hearing on a motion filed by the prosecutor's office seeking to disqualify him from a criminal case.

Lorin Zaner represents Jordan Byrd, one of three siblings who are co-defendants in a case involving allegations of the rape of a minor. If convicted, Mr. Byrd faces life in prison.

In a hearing before Judge Gene Zmuda, Mr. Zaner testified about a conversation he had with his client's co-defendant James Byrd, II, who was represented by a different lawyer. The conversation, which was recorded by the county jail, was presented as evidence in the case.

Mr. Zaner apologized in court for the conversation, which apparently included statements that undermined James Byrd's attorney. Also testifying was James Byrd's appointed attorney, Dave Klucas, who has since been replaced.

At issue was whether the conversation violated the ethical standards governing lawyers.

The prosecutor's office also alleged that Mr. Zaner created a conflict of interest by talking about the case with one of his client's co-defendants.

The motion to disqualify, along with Mr. Zaner's responses, was filed under seal and is not accessible to the public.

Also testifying was Jonathan Cherry, the retired counsel for the Toledo Bar Association who often dealt with issues of attorney ethics. He said that he did not believe that the evidence, including a recording of the jail call, proved a "clear violation" of attorney code of conduct rules.

Judge Zmuda set a on Sept. 11 pretrial hearing for Jordan Byrd, James Byrd, and their co-defendant Larrissa James. He said he would rule on the motion then.

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