OPINION AND ORDER
December 19, 2016, the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended
Christopher David Wiest for two years, with the second year
stayed on the condition he engage in no further misconduct.
Thereafter, the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) filed a
petition with this Court asking that we impose reciprocal
discipline under SCR 3.435(4). We ordered Wiest to show
cause, if any, why we should not impose said discipline.
Wiest responded to our show-cause order; however, we hold
that he failed to prove by substantial evidence that the
grounds set forth in SCR 3.435(4)(a) and (b) were met in his
case. Because Wiest failed to show sufficient cause, this
Court hereby suspends him from the practice of law, as
consistent with the order of the Ohio Supreme Court.
represented Stanley Works in matters which typically
concerned the company's proposed mergers, acquisitions,
and divestitures. During this representation, Wiest
personally purchased 35, 000 shares of InfoLogix stock- a
company Wiest knew Stanley considered acquiring. In the
course of his representation of Stanley, Wiest received an
email indicating that his client was willing to pay $4.75 per
share for the InfoLogix stock. He had never heard of the
company before this email. He understood that Stanley's
interest in acquiring InfoLogix was confidential until the
acquisition became public later that year.
announced in October 2010 that its stock had been delisted
from the NASDAQ stock market. Wiest learned of this
development and purchased 10, 000 shares of the stock using
his 401k account. Days later, he purchased another 25, 000
shares. All of these purchases were at amounts well under
what he knew Stanley would be paying if the acquisition went
through (ranging from $2.84 to $1.95). He did not communicate
with Stanley at any point about his purchase of the stock. He
eventually sold 13, 510 of his shares for $1.35 per share,
taking a loss of almost $18, 000. At that point, he was left
with 21, 490 shares.
December, Stanley announced it was acquiring InfoLogix and
paid $4.75 per share for its stock. Wiest contacted an
attorney with experience in dealing with the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) for advice. On advice of that
counsel, Wiest sold his remaining InfoLogix stock for a
pretax profit of more than $56, 000. The SEC issued a
subpoena compelling Wiest's production of Stanley's
confidential information. Wiest provided Stanley's
confidential information to the SEC without communicating
with Stanley regarding the investigation.
was initially charged with violating four ethical rules.
However, two of these charges were dismissed by the Ohio
Board of Professional Conduct panel assigned to his case and
another was later dismissed by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Specifically, the panel dismissed one charge against Wiest
for providing confidential client information to the SEC
without Stanley's consent and another charge involving
his use of Stanley's confidential information about
InfoLogix for his personal stock trading without seeking
Stanley's informed consent. The panel dismissed these
charges on due-process grounds, based on its finding that
Wiest was not given adequate notice of the charges. The Ohio
Supreme Court upheld the panel's dismissal of these two
charges. That Court also dismissed another charge related to
Wiest's disclosure of Stanley's financial information
to the SEC without the company's consent on due process
all other charges against Wiest dismissed, the Ohio Supreme
Court considered the sole remaining allegation-that he had
violated Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c) (which is
comparable to our SCR 3.130-8.4(c)) for "engag[ing] in
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or
misrepresentation." Under this charge, the Cincinnati
Bar Association, which filed the complaint, asserted that
Wiest used confidential information from his representation
of Stanley in his purchase of InfoLogix stock and did not
consult with Stanley before he did so.
responding to this charge, Wiest insisted that his purchase
of InfoLogix stock was not based on any confidential
information he obtained through his representation of
Stanley. He also stated that, in his personal opinion,
Stanley did not plan to go ahead with the acquisition. The
panel, however, was unconvinced and found that he had engaged
in dishonest and deceitful behavior through using
Stanley's confidential information for personal monetary
gain and failing to obtain Stanley's or his firm's
informed consent before doing so. On appeal to the Ohio
Supreme Court, Wiest argued that there was not clear and
convincing evidence that he went forward with the purchase
based on Stanley's confidential information obtained
through his representation of the company.
finding that Wiest violated the rule in question, the Ohio
Supreme Court stated that the parties "misapprehend[ed]
the true nature of his dishonesty and deceit and overlook[ed]
Wiest's profound failure to appreciate what is perhaps
one of the most fundamental of his professional obligations-
his duty to communicate openly with his client."
Cincinnati Bar Assn. v. Wiest, No. 2016-0263, 2016
WL 7386245, at *5 (Ohio Dec. 19, 2016). That Court further
pointed out that while the charges "focused primarily on
Wiest's use of Stanley's confidential information,
they also alleged that he failed to disclose his actions to
his client (or his firm) or to seek his client's informed
consent to his actions." Id. It went on to
explain that "it is Wiest's repeated concealment of
information that he was duty-bound to communicate to his
client from which we infer his intent to engage in
dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation."
Id. at *7. Ultimately, the court imposed a greater
sanction than that recommended by the panel and suspended
Wiest from the practice of law in Ohio for two years, with
the second year stayed on the condition that he engage in no
response to this Court's show cause order, Wiest asserts
that there was fraud in the Ohio proceedings and that any
misconduct warrants a substantially different sanction than
that imposed in Ohio. For the following reasons, we disagree
and impose reciprocal discipline under SCR 3.435(4).
attorney licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth
receives discipline in another jurisdiction, SCR 3.435(4)
generally requires this Court to impose identical discipline.
Subsections (4)(a) and (b) read, in pertinent part: "(4)
. . . this Court shall impose the identical discipline unless
Respondent proves by substantial evidence: (a) a lack of
jurisdiction or fraud in the out-of-state disciplinary
proceeding, or (b) that misconduct established warrants
substantially different discipline in this State."
Furthermore, SCR 3.435(4)(c) requires this Court to recognize
that, in the absence of the circumstances set forth in
subsections (a) and (b), "a final adjudication in
another jurisdiction that an attorney has been guilty of
misconduct shall establish conclusively the misconduct for
purposes of a disciplinary proceeding in this State."
first takes issue with the Ohio Supreme Court's statement
that "he remained silent upon learning that his client
was moving forward with its acquisition of that company and
once again remained silent when the SEC issued a subpoena
compelling him to produce his client's confidential
information." Id. He asserts the Court should
not have relied upon anything related to the SEC, as it had
previously dismissed the SEC-related charges for lack of
notice. Wiest contends ...