In re Ruffalo, No. C 64-366.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtGibson, J
Citation249 F. Supp. 432
PartiesIn the Matter of John RUFFALO, Jr.
Decision Date04 October 1965
Docket NumberNo. C 64-366.

249 F. Supp. 432

In the Matter of John RUFFALO, Jr.

No. C 64-366.

United States District Court N. D. Ohio, E. D.

October 4, 1965.


Charles Alan Wright, Cambridge, Mass., Craig Spangenberg and Donald Traci, of Spangenberg, Hasenflue, Shibley & Traci, Cleveland, Ohio, for John Ruffalo, Jr.

Mahoning County Bar Ass'n appeared amicus curiae.

BATTISTI, District Judge:

On May 20, 1964, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered that Respondent John Ruffalo, Jr., be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Ohio. Mahoning

249 F. Supp. 433
County Bar Association v. Ruffalo, 176 Ohio St. 263, 199 N.E.2d 396 (1964). This order became final and effective when, on December 7, 1964, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Respondent's petition for certiorari. Ruffalo v. Mahoning County Bar Association, 379 U.S. 931, 85 S.Ct. 328, 13 L.Ed.2d 342 (1964)

Rule 1(E) of this Court's rules provides in part as follows:

"E. Disbarment and Discipline. Any member of the bar of this court may for good cause shown and after an opportunity has been given him to be heard, be disbarred, suspended from practice for a definite time, reprimanded, or subjected to such other discipline as the court may deem proper.
"Whenever it is made to appear to the court that any member of its bar has been disbarred or suspended from practice or convicted of a felony in any other court he shall be suspended forthwith from practice before this court and, unless upon notice mailed to him at his last known place of residence he shows good cause to the contrary within ten days, there shall be entered an order of disbarment, or of suspension, for such time as the court shall fix.
"* * *"

Pursuant to Rule 1(E) it was ordered on January 26, 1965, that Respondent suspend his practice in this Court. It was further ordered that Respondent show cause within 30 days why he should not be disbarred from practice in this Court.

On February 25, 1965, Respondent filed his response to the Order to Show Cause. Shortly thereafter the Court requested that the trustees of the Mahoning County Bar Association appear before the Court to discuss the matter of the disbarment proceedings. Since the Mahoning County Bar Association had aggressively prosecuted the State disbarment proceedings and was obviously the body most familiar with the facts of the case, it was the Court's feeling that said association should represent the interests of the Bar in these proceedings. A substantial number of the trustees of the Mahoning County Bar Association appeared in response to the Court's request for a meeting. At the meeting doubt was expressed as to whether the Mahoning County Bar Association wished to continue its participation in the matter. Rather, it was suggested that the Mahoning Bar would like to inquire whether the Ohio State Bar Association would appear in the proceedings in this Court.1

By order of the Court, a pretrial conference was set for March 26, 1965, to consider questions concerning procedure, stipulations, a hearing date, and any other matters which might be brought to the attention of the Court. The Mahoning County Bar Association was represented at this pretrial conference by Attorneys Joseph Bryan, James Bennett, Jr., and Paul Smith. The Clerk's minutes of the pretrial hearing show that the Mahoning County Bar Association orally moved to appear amicus curiae in these proceedings and that said motion was granted by the Court. The Clerk's minutes further show that the following schedule was set for the disposition of these proceedings:

(1) Counsel for the Respondent to file a proposed stipulation of facts by April 2, 1965.
(2) The Mahoning County Bar Association to file a statement of its views with regard to the proposed stipulation of facts by April 9, 1965.
(3) The Mahoning County Bar Association to file a brief in opposition to Respondent's response
249 F. Supp. 434
to the Order to Show Cause by April 16, 1965.
(4) A hearing was set for April 26, 1965.

The Court was informed at this time that Attorney Joseph Bryan would be representing the Bar Association.

On April 3, 1965, Respondent filed his proposed stipulation of facts. On April 9, 1965, the Mahoning County Bar Association filed its objections to Respondent's proposed stipulation. On April 16, 1965, the Mahoning County Bar Association filed its brief in opposition to the Respondent's response to the Order to Show Cause.

Several days prior to April 26, 1965, the Court requested that the parties be contacted to confirm the oral hearing set for April 26. The Court learned in this manner that Attorney Joseph Bryan had withdrawn from the case. Thereafter, upon further inquiry, the Court learned through Attorney Oscar Kaufman, President of the Mahoning County Bar Association, that the Bar Association would appear at the hearing on April 26, 1965, but that it did not wish to offer any arguments.

On April 26, 1965, Attorney Craig Spangenberg appeared before the Court representing the Respondent. Attorneys Oscar Kaufman, Bernard Wilkes, and Charles P. Henderson appeared on behalf of the Mahoning County Bar Association. At the conclusion of Mr. Spangenberg's arguments, the following colloquy took place between the Court and the representatives of the Bar Association:

"COURT: Does the Mahoning County Bar, through its President, Mr. Kaufman, wish to argue?
MR. KAUFMAN: As President of the Mahoning County Bar Association, I have been directed by its trustees to say to the Court, in substance, that the Mahoning County Bar Association will waive arguments at this time, and will submit this cause to His Honor based upon the briefs filed in the record.
COURT: Now, after this record is typed, I would like an opportunity to review it, together with the briefs that have been filed thus far, for some questions that I wish to be argued before me; and at that time, if I do, the representatives of the Mahoning County Bar Association who have appeared, will be ordered to argue those questions. There are some very serious matters here, which I think need a thorough adverse argument. * * *
MR. WILKES: If the Court please, I think it should be made clear that no one of the Mahoning County Bar Association has read the record of the proceedings before the Ohio Supreme Court. We are not at all familiar with the contents of that record.
COURT: All right, you have made it clear on the record. I think it should be made clear on the record that the Mahoning County Bar Association has had time to read it, but perhaps not you—those sitting here at the counsel table. There was counsel who represented the Mahoning County Bar Association in this matter before this court, and in the case against Mr. Ruffalo before the trial board, and before the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Supreme Court of the United States, but he is not present here. He was on vacation at the time of the first conference. I think he has since returned.
MR. KAUFMAN: I regret I am not able to help to analyze that situation.
COURT: I cast no doubt against that particular attorney. I just want the record to show that he is not here and has not carried forward this argument.
249 F. Supp. 435
I will begin immediately to work on this case, and the reporter will get it to me as quickly as possible. I do want you to be prepared for additional argument before the matter is completed in this court."

It is readily apparent from the above-quoted comments that the Court was, at the time of the hearing, less than satisfied with the conduct of the Mahoning County Bar in these proceedings. Further, the Court was of the opinion that the Mahoning County Bar Association, acting through its trustees, had failed to responsibly execute its duty to the Court and the Bar. Thus, notwithstanding the fact that the Mahoning County Bar Association aggressively prosecuted the State disbarment proceedings, at no time in these proceedings had any member appeared on behalf of the Association who appeared to have more than a fleeting knowledge of the facts of the case.2 Under the circumstances of this case, as will be discussed in greater detail subsequently, the aid of the members of the Bar Association who had knowledge of the facts of the case would have been of invaluable assistance to the Court in the disposition of these proceedings.

Notwithstanding the Bar Association's clearly demonstrated apathy towards these proceedings, a motion was filed in this Court on June 9, 1965, requesting an en banc hearing. On June 24, 1965, the Court heard oral arguments on this motion. At the conclusion of these arguments the Court denied the request for an en banc hearing.

At the oral hearing on June 24, 1965, the Court granted the Bar Association and the Respondent leave to file further briefs on the issues presented with regard to Charge No. 13. The Bar Association filed its supplemental brief on July 6, 1965, and the Respondent a reply thereto on July 12, 1965.

From a reading of the entire record of the State disbarment proceedings, particularly the testimony of one Charles S. White, an employee of the Association of American Railroads, it seems clear that the genesis of the disbarment proceedings against Respondent was an investigation conducted by agents of the Association of American Railroads. (Tr. 770 to 773.) After the investigation of said Association had been completed, the results were turned over to Attorney Jay Brownlee, then President of the Mahoning County Bar Association.3 Some time in 1962, charges were filed against the Respondent by the grievance committee of the Mahoning County Bar Association. These charges involved Respondent's relationship with certain persons contacted and interviewed by representatives of the Association of American Railroads in the course of its investigation of the Respondent.

Originally, ten charges were preferred against Respondent. These charges may be briefly summarized as follows:

Charge #1 — That Respondent had failed to pay certain costs...

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3 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass'n v. Smolen, No. 1029
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 14, 1992
    ...42, 5 O.S.1961, Ch. 1, App. 3, see note 6, infra. These rules would not prohibit the kinds of advances made here. See, In re Ruffalo, 249 F.Supp. 432, 440-443 (N.D.Ohio 5 An affidavit and a letter attached to pleadings submitted to this Court show the humanitarian nature of the loans. An af......
  • In the Matter of John Ruffalo, Jr., Petitioner, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 8, 1968
    ...Court, after ordering petitioner to show cause why he should not be disbarred, found that there was no misconduct. In re Ruffalo, 249 F.Supp. 432 (D.C.N.D.Ohio). The Court of Appeals likewise ordered petitioner to show cause why he should not be stricken from the roll of that court on the b......
  • In re Ruffalo, Misc. No. 269.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1966
    ...Court. He disagreed, however, with that decision and refused to suspend Ruffalo from practice in the District Court. In re Ruffalo, 249 F. Supp. 432 (N.D. Ohio, E. Div. 1965). However, he withheld the entry of a final order, reciting that "In the event that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal......
3 cases
  • State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass'n v. Smolen, No. 1029
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 14, 1992
    ...42, 5 O.S.1961, Ch. 1, App. 3, see note 6, infra. These rules would not prohibit the kinds of advances made here. See, In re Ruffalo, 249 F.Supp. 432, 440-443 (N.D.Ohio 5 An affidavit and a letter attached to pleadings submitted to this Court show the humanitarian nature of the loans. An af......
  • In the Matter of John Ruffalo, Jr., Petitioner, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 8, 1968
    ...Court, after ordering petitioner to show cause why he should not be disbarred, found that there was no misconduct. In re Ruffalo, 249 F.Supp. 432 (D.C.N.D.Ohio). The Court of Appeals likewise ordered petitioner to show cause why he should not be stricken from the roll of that court on the b......
  • In re Ruffalo, Misc. No. 269.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1966
    ...Court. He disagreed, however, with that decision and refused to suspend Ruffalo from practice in the District Court. In re Ruffalo, 249 F. Supp. 432 (N.D. Ohio, E. Div. 1965). However, he withheld the entry of a final order, reciting that "In the event that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal......

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