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Ohio Attorney David Ernst Accused of Misconduct in Representation of Army Soldier’s Family
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David Ernst

Summary: Longtime Lebanon, Ohio attorney David Ernst is accused of a lack of diligence in his representation of an Army soldier’s family after he committed suicide.

Ohio lawyer David Ernst has not been so earnest in his dealings with clients. The Lebanon lawyer is accused of misconduct for his representation of the family of an Army veteran who committed suicide after the attack in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas.


The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct stated Ernst would undergo a formal disciplinary proceeding in the complaint filed by the Warren County Bar Association. He is the former president of the county bar association.

A press release from the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Professional Conduct states, “The certified complaint has been sent to the respondent, and the respondent has been directed to file an answer to the allegations contained in the complaint. Once an answer is received, the case will be assigned to a three-member hearing panel of the Board, and the hearing panel will conduct further proceedings in the case.”

The press release continued, “Typically, a public hearing is scheduled within four to six months after the case is assigned to a hearing panel. If the Board finds that a lawyer or judge has engaged in professional misconduct, the Board will file a report with the Supreme Court that includes a recommended sanction.”

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The complaint involves the family of Joshua Berry. On behalf of his father Howard Berry, the complaint was filed, stating, “Joshua Berry was injured while attempting to protect other innocent individuals. Joshua Berry suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and committed suicide.” He died on February 13, 2013.

The Fort Hood shooting occurred on November 5, 2009, when Nidal Hassan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist killed 13 and wounded over 30 others in what is the worst mass shooting at an American military base. Hassan was a Muslim but turned to a radical way of thinking, making connections with a Yemen-based terrorist group.

A week after Berry’s suicide, his father retained Ernst to settle the estate by depositing $2,500 into a bank account instead of Ernst’s trust account. Several months later, Howard Berry learned that his son’s daughter was the beneficiary of a $400,000 life insurance policy. He wanted Ernst to form a trust so the money would be protected from his son’s ex-wife.

Nearly a year later, Howard Berry fired Ernst and demanded the return of the retainer. Ernst sent a check from his law firm’s account, according to the complaint filed by Keith Anderson, assistant county prosecutor representing the local bar association. Ernst is accused of professional misconduct in his failure to be diligent, consult with Howard Berry, return papers or property to Berry, and deposit the retainer in a trust account.

How do you think attorneys should be punished for not appropriately doing their job? Should they be required to complete more hours of pro bono work? Tell us what you think should happen in the comments below.

To learn more about other legal actions involving those who have committed suicide, read these articles:



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