CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The Ohio Supreme Court reinstated local attorney Clyde Bennett II Tuesday after a year-long suspension from practicing the law.
He was suspended last year due to dishonesty, state records show.
The Supreme Court voted 4-3 to suspend him after the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct recommended a six-month suspension.
The state’s top court imposed a harsher sentence, writing in their opinion it was justified because this was the second time Bennett has been suspended by the Court for actions involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Bennett tells FOX19 NOW he’s back in action and plans to practice for five or ten more years.
“This past year I worked out every day, traveled, rested and relaxed,” he said in a statement to FOX19 NOW. “More importantly, I spent significant time with my family and friends. Friendship is essential to the soul. I am rested and restored. The party is over. I AM BACK ! I am again ready willing and able to fight for the accused.I have prayed. This is still what my GOD wants me to do . The passion, ability and commitment to win cases for my client is still there. There is still ‘fire in the furnace’.
“Indeed, notwithstanding my success in the past, I am still hungry,” he continued. "I have a perpetual ‘chip on my shoulder’ with something to prove i.e. : that I am the best . This is the fourth quarter. I plan to finish strong. I will practice for five or ten more years. During this period of time I will run through a brick wall for my client.
"I have fought for the wrongfully and rightfully accused in our great community for decades. My back is scarred. I will continue to practice without fear and with a beast like mentality. I will continue to achieve the unparalleled results at trial that I have for more than the last two decades.
“For those that have supported me and prayed for me , I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am going to make it right. I promise, I won’t let you down. Make it a great week, Cincinnati.”
The case against Bennett that got him sidelined for a year was over his handling of an appeal in 2015 for a man, John Kelley of Springdale, serving a 25-year prison sentence for attempted murder and felonious assault, court records show.
Bennett missed a Feb. 2, 2015 deadline to file the required papers to appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. In his motion the following month for a delayed appeal, he inaccurately wrote he was not retained until after that deadline, court records show.
The board found the misconduct caused harm to Kelley, depriving him of a direct appeal and “creating additional procedural hurdles in his quest for federal habeas relief.”
The board also indicated it could not reconcile Bennett’s testimony regarding his legal strategy with his actions.
After receiving $4,500, he filed a single, one-page motion and told Kelley the representation was complete without even telling him about the possibility of a further challenge to the conviction in state court, according to the opinion.
The Court considered that Bennett displayed a cooperative attitude during disciplinary proceedings and presented “strong evidence of his character and reputation from a significant number of lawyers and judges.”
However, the opinion noted that few of the letters of support suggested the authors had specific knowledge of the misconduct alleged in Bennett’s handling of Kelley’s case.
Last year, Bennett said: “My spirit is not broken. I will not lose my passion or expertise in providing representation to the fullest extent of the law to individuals charged with the commission of crime,” his statement continued.
“I will now reset, relax and enjoy life. Something I have not done in the last 7 years. I will sleep the first two months. I will be restored, fresh, energetic and ready. willing and able to fight in 365 days, but who’s counting.”
Bennett was indefinitely suspended in 2010 based on a 2007 federal conviction in which he received a two-year prison sentence.
He admitted he deposited cash in amounts less than $10,000 to evade federal regulations requiring banks to report deposits over that amount.
“Here, Bennett has a prior indefinite suspension for engaging in dishonest conduct that also resulted in a felony conviction and a two-year prison term, and he has gone on to engage in additional dishonesty and misrepresentation just four years after being reinstated to the practice of law,” the court stated in its opinion.
“Therefore, we conclude that this misconduct warrants a greater sanction than the six-month suspension recommended by the board or the one-year suspensions with six months stayed on conditions that we imposed in the cases relied upon by the board.”