PARKERSBURG — An area defense attorney was suspended for one year with sixth-month stayed concerning misconduct reflecting on his well-being to practice law.
Jack A. Blakeslee, a Noble County defense attorney with 47 years of practicing law, was suspended by the Supreme Court of Ohio for throwing a feces-filled Pringles can in the parking lot of the crime-victim advocacy center Haven of Hope in Cambridge in November 2021.
Blakeslee, at the time of the incident, was defending a man with multiple charges including aggravated murder. The victim of the case was under the age of 13, making the aggravated murder charge a capital offense. The defendant was indicted June 1, 2021 and six days later Blakeslee was appointed to his case during his arraignment. Court proceedings for this case continued from June to September of that year.
On the morning of November 30, the day of another pretrial hearing, Blakeslee made his deposit in the Pringles can, left his house with it, and drove to the Cambridge parking lot. He slowed his car as he passed the Haven of Hope, which is located two-tenths of a mile from the Guernsey County Common Pleas Courthouse, and threw the can into the lot from which he drove to attend the hearing at 8:30 a.m., according to the 13-page Supreme Court of Ohio opinion included by Court News Ohio.
Michelle Carpenter Wilkinson, the chief executive officer of Haven of Hope, witnessed Blakeslee throwing the Pringles can out of his car and discovered the can and its contents.
Carpenter Wilkinson and Blakeslee had known each other professionally for many years before the incident. Blakeslee had represented Carpenter Wilkinson’s daughter in a legal matter. She had also attended several of the court proceedings for Blakeslee’s case and was attending the pretrial hearing that morning as well.
After attending the hearing, Carpenter Wilkinson discussed the incident with the prosecutor assigned to the Blakeslee case, and eventually filed a report with the Cambridge Police Department. He later was charged and pleaded guilty to minor-misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and littering. Blakeslee ended up paying $248 in fines and court costs for his offenses.
During his disciplinary hearing, Blakeslee admitted that he performed his disgraceful stunt at least ten other times in various random locations during that year. He also denied knowing that the parking lot belonged to the victim advocacy center.
According to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s opinion, they “adopt that finding of misconduct and expressly find that Blakeslee’s conduct adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law even though that conduct is not expressly prohibited by another rule.”
The opinion also stated that although Blakeslee testified that he was a Vietnam veteran and that he had received psychological treatment for PTSD related to his military service as well as child abuse, he did not seek to establish his disorder as a mitigating factor. He admitted that his actions were “stupid” and described them as a “prank.” He acknowledged that he was embarrassed by the public revelation of his misconduct and the resulting media attention. Blakeslee also testified that he knew everyone at Haven of Hope and dealt with them on a daily basis.
In the conclusion of the opinion, the Supreme Court of Ohio made the decision to suspend Blakeslee from the practice of law in Ohio for one year with six months stayed on the condition that he does not engage in further misconduct.
Gretchen Dowler can be reached at [email protected]