Toledo Bar Association v. Robert P. DeMarco, Case no. 2014-1738
The state disciplinary board recommends that the Supreme Court suspend Robert P. DeMarco of Solon for one year for lying repeatedly to a court, creating a potential harm to an expert witness, and for failing to show remorse for his actions until he was caught.
DeMarco represented a client in a defamation lawsuit against the client's former business partners. The suit alleged that the former partners wrote and shared defamatory statements about DeMarco's client with a new employer.
As part of discovery in the case, DeMarco requested copies of the former partners' hard drives. DeMarco hired Jack Harper, a data expert, to obtain the records. In June 2011, the parties agreed to a protocol for copying and searching the files, and the agreement provided that the judge would conduct an in camera inspection to decide which documents to give to DeMarco.
According to the board's report, Harper obtained the records, filtered the data according to the agreement, and gave a disk with the filtered results to DeMarco. But the disk wasn't provided to the judge. DeMarco then searched the data himself.
At a pretrial conference in March 2012, DeMarco told the judge and opposing counsel that he had not looked at the results of the records search. After the conference, he left a voicemail with Harper about his statements.
The parties settled, but the former partners wanted the disk. At a November hearing, opposing counsel focused on questioning Harper about what happened to the disk. In a conversation with the judge and during his testimony, DeMarco never supported the expert or admitted that he had reviewed the filtered data, the board noted.
During the disciplinary proceedings, DeMarco and the Toledo Bar Association, which filed the complaint in the case, agreed that the attorney had violated three professional conduct rules. The panel that reviewed the case also determined that DeMarco acted with a dishonest motive, an aggravating factor, and that there were three mitigating circumstances.
While the panel recommended a one-year suspension with six months stayed, the board recommends a greater sanction of a full one-year suspension.