P’ville attorney resignsPublished 11:03am Wednesday, July 11, 2012
After nearly three decades of practicing law in Lawrence County, a Proctorville attorney has resigned his license after a complaint was filed with the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.
Marty Stillpass will no longer be permitted to practice law in Ohio or any other jurisdiction, according to an application for “resignation with disciplinary action pending” signed by Stillpass and filed by Ohio’s high court.
Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., said the Supreme Court notified his office a couple of weeks ago of possible charges against Stillpass. Whether the charges are related to the complaint filed in March remains unclear at this time.
Collier said he passed the case on to the Office of Attorney General Mike DeWine since attorneys in the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office have worked with Stillpass closely in the past.
Stillpass was admitted to the Ohio State Bar May 9, 1983. The attorney handled a variety of cases including divorces, dissolutions, estates, estate planning and criminal cases.
Stillpass served as defense attorney for Megan Goff during her first trial in 2006, a high-profile murder case where Goff was convicted of murdering her husband.
At the time Stillpass submitted his resignation, the complaint was pending with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.
Filed in March, the complaint alleged Stillpass shared legal fees with his part-time office assistant. According to the complaint, Stillpass violated the rules of professional conduct, which states, “A lawyer cannot share legal fees with a non-lawyer.”
The complaint alleged that in 2007, Stillpass entered into an agreement with his office assistant and agreed to share a portion of legal fees collected in probate cases that involved the sale of real estate.
The complaint listed three instances where Stillpass gave 2 percent of his legal fees to his assistant, which totaled $6,000.
According to Rick Dove, Secretary to the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, when Stillpass resigned as an attorney, there was “no need to adjudicate” the case.
Stillpass said he turned in his resignation in exchange for the Supreme Court dropping the case against him and the pending disciplinary action.
“I can say the investigation the Supreme Court did resulted from the actions of a former employee,” Stillpass said. “That investigation lasted close to a year. I cooperated fully with the Supreme Court’s investigation. Ultimately, I am responsible for my employee’s actions.”
Stillpass must surrender his attorney registration card by July 13 and to notify his clients of his resignation and notify opposing counsel in any pending litigation.
Stillpass said Ironton attorney Jason Smith will take over his Proctorville practice.
“He is an experienced and competent attorney,” Stillpass said of Smith, who is a 1999 graduate of Ohio State University Law School. “He has significant experience in several areas.”
Collier said the special prosecutors of the attorney general’s office have complete control of the case at this point and are doing their own independent investigation.
“What I have done is looked at the allegations, contacted Mike DeWine’s office and suggested they prosecute him,” Collier said. “If we are too hard on him, people will complain. If we are too light on him, people will complain. It is best to have someone independent.”
Jill Del Greco, public information officer for DeWine’s office, declined to comment specifically on a case involving Stillpass.
“Our criminal justice section, where our special prosecutors are housed, got a request from the prosecutors office of Lawrence County for our special prosecutors to investigate a case,” Greco said. “We are investigating a case out of Lawrence County but as to who or what that case is about, we cannot comment.”