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Lawyer Hoping for Second Chance After Affair with Client's Wife

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 06, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Robert Caulley, an aeronautical engineer, spent the last fourteen years in prison. He's getting his second chance now, and his former attorney, James D. Owen is seeking the same, after sleeping with his client's wife, before, during, and after the trial.

True Crime Report tells Caulley's side of the story: he arrived at his parents' house, where a burglary was in progress. Inside, he found his parents bludgeoned to death. Three years later, he became the focus of the investigation, and after a twelve-hour interrogation, where he was allegedly denied an attorney, he finally gave a coerced confession.

He hired noted attorney James D. Owen to defend him, and his wife Celeste, spent countless hours alongside the attorney, both to help with her husband's defense, and to carry on an affair.

Caulley's Second Chance

Back in September, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the prosecution's final appeal. It became official: Robert Caulley, who had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life since 1997, will get a second trial, after the court determined that the affair between his wife and attorney "adversely affected his representation," reports the The Columbus Dispatch.

Caulley learned about the affair in 2011, and four months later, filed a motion seeking a new trial. According to TCR, Celeste and Owen even slept together on the night of Caulley's conviction, with Celeste recalling in a court filing that, "Jim then drove us to a hotel where we stayed until the early hours of the morning and again ended up having sexual relations. Afterwards Jim wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me, whispering, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.'"

Owen's Second Chance

On Monday, Owen confessed it all, telling a three-member panel of the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that he knew the affair was wrong, and admitted that he waited 14 years to tell anyone, outside of his family, about the relationship. Even then, he did so because he realized that the truth was about to be made public.

He called his actions wrong, unethical, and a "betrayal of trust," reports the Dispatch. He is facing either a suspension or full disbarment. The panel will report its findings to the full board, which will then make recommendations to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Much like his former client, he's seeking a second chance, and his therapist, Sandi McCall, argued that he deserves it. She told the panel that Owen suffers from severe attention deficit disorder, which is characterized by a lack of focus, procrastination, and impulsive actions. He is now on medication and undergoing therapy.

What do you think? Is full disbarment called for, or perhaps a suspension? Join the discussion at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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