The state attorney discipline board is seeking the immediate suspension of Michael Mearan, the Portsmouth attorney facing sex trafficking charges who recently has been representing himself.
In documents filed Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court, the board says it has credible evidence that Mearan “engaged in human trafficking of at least five of his vulnerable clients…and poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public.”
The former city council member and prominent Scioto County defense attorney was arrested Oct. 23 after years of attempted law enforcement investigations at the local and federal level.
He is accused of using his position of power to force women into a drug-laden prostitution ring, charges he has denied.
The Disciplinary Counsel argues that his law license should be suspended because the allegations involve his own clients.
“(Mearan) is brazen, as he allegedly stated to one of his victims that he ‘had been under investigation for 20 years and nothing happened to him,’ ” the documents say. “Even more, the threat level is grim, as Jane Doe 6 expressed fear she would end up dead if she did not comply with (Mearan)’s requests.”
According to the documents, Mearan is not allowed to take on new law clients as a condition of his bond, but currently has around 50 open cases in Scioto County. Court documents show Mearan is currently representing himself in his own case.
He is currently awaiting trial while being tracked with an ankle monitor after posting a $300,000 bond, surrendering his passport and agreeing not to leave the state.
In January, the Disciplinary Counsel asked Mearan to consider a voluntary interim remedial suspension. He declined.
“I have not been given the names of the alleged victims, but can categorically deny any wrongdoing on my part,” Mearan wrote in an email to counsel’s office. “At this point, I have not been made aware of any incriminating evidence. The only allegations against me are the statements of former unknown clients which I presume were promised favorable treatment with pending cases.”
He asked that the counsel reconsider its position.
“For all intents and purposes, I am semi-retired from the practice of law… I am helping current clients finish their cases,” Mearan wrote. “To prohibit me from practice would create a real hardship for many people.”
Mearan also said he is 75 years old with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“It is obvious I am not a threat to anyone,” he wrote. “To prohibit me to continue the practice of law at this point would serve no useful purpose.”
In its motion, the Disciplinary Counsel said its intention is to protect the public, citing the Ohio Supreme Court’s comparison of human trafficking to “modern-day slavery.”
The motion includes The Enquirer’s 2019 investigation into Mearan and the claims against him as well as a federal affidavit outlining his alleged crimes.
Officials say Mearan faces more than 70 years in prison if convicted.