CINCINNATI — The Kentucky Inquiry Commission has initiated formal disciplinary charges against Ben Dusing, a Northern Kentucky attorney who was suspended in February following a three-month review of allegations that he threatened two Northern Kentucky attorneys and used amphetamines during a federal criminal trial in New York.
Three charging documents, provided to WCPO by Dusing, outline nine counts of disciplinary violations, signed by the Inquiry Commission between June 17 and June 22.
“I’m committed to this process playing out transparently,” Dusing said. “I think that there are bigger issues here and I think it’s important to the public and those who inform the public have all of the information. So, when it’s requested, I’m happy to provide it.”
Dusing is a high-profile local defense attorney who represented former Cincinnati Councilman Jeff Pastor against corruption charges until his suspension forced him to withdraw from the case in April. Pastor has yet to find a replacement as former Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld stands trial on similar charges this month.
Dusing asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to end his suspension in May. It rejected that request and ordered the Kentucky Bar Association to initiate a formal disciplinary process within 30 days.
Dusing declined to comment on the new charges, which differ from allegations previously made by the Bar Association. It argued Dusing posed a substantial threat to his clients and the public when it sought his temporary suspension. But the new charges focus on procedural allegations, including the filing of frivolous motions and disrupting child custody cases.
The Bar Association has not responded to the I-Team’s questions about the charging documents, which can be amended before hearing is held, according to Supreme Court rules.
The new charges include some details that were part of earlier pleadings by the Bar Association, including a November 2021 Facebook post in which Dusing threatened to “blow up” two attorneys involved in his custody cases. But instead of presenting the video as evidence of a threat to the public, the new charging documents call it an attempt “to disrupt a tribunal.”
The new charging documents do not include allegations that Dusing used amphetamines. They do not mention an alleged “misappropriation of money held in escrow” by Dusing, as outlined in an April 29 filing by the Bar Association. That filing said the alleged misappropriation as a “significant, continuing concern.”
Here is a summary of the allegations in the three charging documents:
- Dusing filed ‘frivolous motions and appeals’ to the Kentucky Supreme Court and six motions to recuse or disqualify Judge Christopher Mehling, in violation of SCR 3.130(3.5)(d) - “A lawyer shall not: engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.”
- Dusing threatened to present criminal or civil charges against Judge Mehling, in violation of SCR 3.130(3.4)(f) - “A lawyer shall not: present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in any civil or criminal matter.”
- Dusing threatened to present criminal or civil charges against attorney Stephanie Dietz, in violation of SCR 3.130(3.4)(f) - “A lawyer shall not: present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in any civil or criminal matter.”
- Dusing assisted or induced Jeffrey Otis to offer $5,000 to Dr. Connor, a witness, to induce Dr. Connor to change his custodial evalution, in violation of SCR 3.130(3.4)(b) and SCR 3.130(8.4)(a) – “A lawyer shall not: knowingly falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law” and “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another.”
- Dusing made at least seven statements that violated SCR 3.130(8.2)(a) - “A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.”
- Dusing’s Facebook post on November 2, 2021 violated SCR 3.130(3.5)(d) - “A lawyer shall not: engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal”
- Dusing filed multiple motions for which he was sanctioned by Judge Mehling and the Kentucky Court of Appeals, violating SCR 3.130(3.1) - “A lawyer shall not knowingly bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.”
- Dusing filed multiple motions for which he was sanctioned and sent repeated emails to a Guardian ad Litem in his custody case, violating SCR 3.130(3.5)(d) - “A lawyer shall not: engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal”
- Dusing filed multiple frivolous motions and appeals, violating SCR 3.130(4.4)(a) - “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.”