CINCINNATI — The Ohio Supreme Court suspended Northern Kentucky attorney Ben Dusing Tuesday, after he refuted allegations that he had "a history of domestic violence" and made "threatening statements toward women and one of his children."
"As a father, a lawyer, and a former federal prosecutor, he has a right to be outraged and to express that outrage in strong language, if he has a reasonable belief that there has actually been corruption in his two family law cases," Dusing's attorney George Jonson argued in a six-page legal brief Monday. "The strong language may be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but it doesn’t rise to the level of a 'substantial threat of serious harm to the public.'"
Kentucky’s Supreme Court temporarily suspended Dusing on Feb. 24, citing a Facebook video in which the prominent local defense attorney allegedly threatened two attorneys involved in his daughter’s custody case. Dusing claimed the threats were “political speech,” meant to call attention to corruption. But the court ruled there was probable cause to believe Dusing was a threat to others. So, it ordered Dusing to undergo a mental health evaluation within 90 days and stop practicing law immediately.
Kentucky suspensions typically lead to reciprocal suspensions in Ohio, but that process can take more than a month. On Feb. 25, Ohio’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a 127-page motion to expedite Dusing’s suspension in Ohio. The filing cited dozens of court records that describe a series of threats made by Dusing in two separate custody cases. Dusing rejected each of those descriptions as inaccurate.
Dusing "has not been charged with or convicted of any crime—not harassment, intimidation, assault—nothing," his attorney argued.
Dusing offered to waive his right to challenge an immediate reciprocal suspension, pending the resolution of his Kentucky case. But he objected to the "immediate remedial suspension" that Ohio ultimately imposed.
The Ohio Disciplinary Counsel argued Dusing’s “conduct continues to spiral, and he has exhibited concerning and threatening behavior directed toward multiple people in several different facets of his life. Given respondent’s history of domestic violence and the concerns raised about his mental health by the evaluations completed in his custody case, these threats must be taken seriously. The court must act to protect the public from serious harm by imposing an immediate interim remedial suspension.”
The Supreme Court ordered Dusing to respond to the Disciplinary Counsel’s motion by 4pm Monday. Reached by WCPO on Feb. 26, Dusing said: “I intended to take a break and not practice at all until the issue in Kentucky was dealt with to everyone’s satisfaction.”