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The Supreme Court of Ohio on Wednesday suspended the law license of a Columbus attorney for one year after finding that he destroyed confidential law firm documents then lied about it when he moved to a rival firm. The suspension of David J. Robinson is half the length recommended by the state’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline. Still, the court found that Robinson “engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving multiple instances of lying and misrepresentation under oath, as well as the destruction of documents with potential evidentiary value in a pending civil proceeding.” Robinson did not return calls or e-mail messages on Thursday seeking comment, nor did his attorney, Bruce Hadden. The disciplinary matter began in 2007, when Robinson was a partner at Columbus-based Schottenstein Zox & Dunn. Robinson signed a confidentiality agreement with the firm when it formed a lobbying subsidiary in 2005, according to the ruling. He subsequently practiced law and engaged in lobbying. Robinson decided to run for public office in 2007, but began to fear for his law firm job when Schottenstein’s managing partner presented him with a new employment agreement that required him to resign his partnership and stop practicing law. Robinson initiated job talks with two other Columbus law firms, including Porter Wright Morris & Arthur. He sent copies of his employment agreements, client billing reports and other documents to his prospective firms, redacting some of the information. While the rest of the firm was away at a retreat in Pennsylvania in early August 2007, Robinson removed seven boxes of documents from his office, storing some at his home and disposing of others, according to the ruling. Surveillance tapes captured him leaving the building with the boxes. Schottenstein fired him on Aug. 14, and Robinson joined Porter Wright the following day. Schottenstein then filed a civil complaint alleging that Robinson violated the nonsolicitation and nondisclosure covenant of his employment agreement. Several days later, Robinson testified during a disposition that he “made sure not to take any client files or client information” and denied removing business plans and marketing information. During a court hearing on Aug. 29, Robinson denied taking the firm’s e-mail list of customers and prospective customers. According to the Supreme Court ruling, Robinson destroyed a report on Schottenstein’s 2004 to 2007 billable hours in the men’s restroom at the courthouse while on lunch recess during the Aug. 29 hearing. He later destroyed several boxes of documents he had taken from his old office and stored at his home, self-reporting the destruction of the documents four days later, the ruling said. The disciplinary board found that Robinson had violated two rules of professional conduct when he lied under oath during his deposition and the hearing, and when he destroyed the documents. Robinson countered that he “genuinely did not remember when he had removed the documents from his office, what documents he had removed or what documents had remained in his possession.” Therefore, he argued, he had not willfully violated the rules of professional conduct. The court was skeptical of Robinson’s vague memory, noting that the events took place within four weeks of his court testimony. “We agree that in light of the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent’s failure of recollection on the stand is simply not credible,” the court said. “Therefore, we conclude that clear and convincing evidence demonstrates that respondent has refused to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct.” While four of the justices concurred with the one-year suspension, two dissented and said that Robinson should de suspended for two years. One judge did not participate. Robinson is the founder and principal of The Montrose Group, a government relations and public affairs and economic development consulting firm. He is also listed as an adjunct professor at Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law.

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