CHARLESTON – A Wood County attorney’s career is on hiatus while he recovers from a stroke.
The state Supreme Court on March 28 unanimously granted a petition filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to administratively suspend Michael V. Marlow’s license. In her petition filed March 18, Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Rachael L. Fletcher Cipoletti said Marlow, 50 and of Parkersburg, provided sufficient documentation that he “suffers from a physical impairment… which prevents him from competently practicing law and protecting his clients’ interests” to justify a temporary suspension.
Two months prior to the petition, ODC, the arm of the court that investigates attorney misconduct, filed a single-count statement of charges against Marlow accusing him of failing to respond to its directive to close a client’s case. On Dec. 29, 2011, ODC instructed Marlow to not only return the unearned portion of Alyssa Russell’s retainer, but also her file.
Also, ODC instructed Marlow to provide Russell an itemized statement of the work he performed in her domestic case. ODC gave Marlow 60 days to comply with its directive.
On Feb. 28, 2012 - the day after the deadline – Marlow sent a fax to ODC stating he was recovering from a stroke. Regardless, he intended to provide a “complete response” to any request or demand.
However, over the next six months, Marlow allegedly failed to respond to ODC’s repeated letters requesting an update on his progress on returning Russell’s money and file. This prompted ODC to first file a motion to reopen Russell’s complaint on June 30, 2012 – two years to the day after she first filed it – and later subpoena him to appear in person at its office on Oct. 30 to provide a sworn statement.
Four days before he was scheduled to provide his sworn statement, Marlow called ODC saying his was hospitalized and would provide documentation of it. When none was forthcoming, ODC filed its statement against Marlow on Jan. 7.
However, on March 8, Marlow submitted records regarding his hospitalization. Five days later, he appeared at ODC’s office and provided a letter from his treating neurologist that stated he was unable to work as a result of a cerebrovascular accident that occurred 18 months earlier.
Also, Marlow disclosed six months earlier he lost consciousness while driving which resulted in his “involve[ment] in a substantial car accident.”
The court’s order also included holding in abeyance any further action on the statement of charges until Marlow is deemed fit to practice law again. An evidentiary hearing was tentatively scheduled for May 30 in Parkersburg.
According to the petition, Marlow, who was admitted to the state bar on May 19, 1987, was already under another administrative suspension. The bar on Nov. 19 suspended him for failing to pay his annual dues and disclose if he had liability insurance.
West Virginia Supreme Court, case number 13-0021 (statement of charges) and 13-0284 (administrative suspension)