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Published: Friday, 10/18/2002

Area lawyer found in contempt

The Ohio Supreme Court has found Toledo lawyer James D. Godbey in contempt for failing to comply with its orders in the suspension of his license to practice law in the state.

Mr. Godbey's license was suspended indefinitely in March by the court. The disciplinary action followed a Toledo Bar Association investigation.

The court's contempt finding, which was released Wednesday, was issued because Mr. Godbey did not submit a certificate of admission and file an affidavit of compliance with the court before April 5.

The indefinite suspension given to Mr. Godbey is the harshest penalty available to the court short of disbarment. He could seek reinstatement of his license in March, 2004.

Regina Koehler, a spokeswoman for the court, said she did not know what impact, if any, the contempt finding would have with the court if Mr. Godbey would seek reinstatement.

“It certainly seems that it would come up. The process for petitioning for getting a license reinstated is quite involved. I can't say what weight a contempt order would carry,” she said.

The bar investigation stemmed from grievances filed by a number of Mr. Godbey's clients, who accused him of neglecting to file documents, not informing them of key developments in cases, not returning telephone calls, and failing to turn over files.

At a hearing before the court in November, Mr. Godbey, a lawyer for 22 years, said personal problems, including a lengthy divorce, were among the reasons that caused problems with his practice. He said he was barred from his home, suffered health problems, and no longer could maintain a legal office.

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