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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Oak Harbor lawyer dodges court's censure

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday decided not to hold Oak Harbor attorney Elsebeth M. Baumgartner in contempt of court for practicing law while under suspension. The high court did not issue an explanation of its decision.

Mrs. Baumgartner still faces a disciplinary hearing this summer or fall to decide whether she should be permanently suspended or even disbarred. The Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel has, among other things, accused her of making “false accusations, misrepresentations, and malicious statements” against public officials.

“What makes my case unusual is that I'm the first person who's ever had a license suspended under interim remedial suspension with no evidence of wrongdoing, such as a criminal conviction or evidence that I pose an immediate threat of substantial harm,” said Mrs. Baumgartner. “All I've done is complain about case-fixing and judges in Ottawa and Erie counties.”

Last week's contempt-of-court hearing ended suddenly when Mrs. Baumgartner accused Chief Justice Thomas Moyer of lying when he said previously he was unaware of allegations she'd made specifically about him. She said yesterday she believed she was in the clear when she was not held in contempt on the spot.

The contempt charge contended she continued to practice after the court imposed the interim suspension on Feb. 1 pending a hearing.

She told the court she didn't receive official notice of her suspension until she checked her post office box six days later. Only one of the acts of practicing law occurred after Feb. 7.

She insisted she is not practicing law.



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