Pregnant? Don’t Plan On Practicing Before Ohio’s Supreme Court Any Time Soon

Pregnant DriverLast week we covered a story where a Proskauer attorney tried to use his opposing counsel’s wife’s going in to labor as a leverage-gaining exercise. In her coverage, Kathryn Rubino did a great job of really emphasizing how callous and allergic to generally accepted human sensibilities it is to not give a little grace in situations where pregnancy interrupts matters before the court. Unfortunately, five of the seven members of Ohio’s Supreme Court didn’t seem to get the memo. From ABA Journal:

The Ohio Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a bid by a pregnant lawyer on bed rest to stay a trial scheduled to begin the next day.

The state supreme court ruled against lawyer Chelsea J. Panzeca in her emergency bid to stay the May 8 trial of her client, while the justices consider whether to direct the trial judge to grant a continuance.

Justice Jennifer Brunner said she would have granted the stay in a dissent joined by Justice Michael P. Donnelly.

To make matters worse, the Court’s denial of stay doubles down on saying whatever to equity and accessibility:

It is “standard practice” at Panzeca’s firm for her to take the lead in Ohio criminal cases, like the instant one in which the alleged victim is a child, Panzeca said in her May 3 mandamus complaint.

Panzeca’s assisting counsel is hard of hearing.

Panzeca’s due date for her twins is May 25. She agreed to a May 8 trial date in Highland County, Ohio, before she was told to stay in bed because of a medical condition.

The trial judge should have granted the continuance as reasonable under the circumstances, Brunner wrote in her dissent. Now, Panzeca’s only access to the trial will be to watch it on YouTube.

Listen — going to law school on glorified YouTube was troubling enough. Being lead on a high-stakes case, then getting sick and then being consigned to laying in bed as your co-counsel has to handle everything is a nightmare.

When pushed on their reasoning, the majority had this to say. From Law360:

Judge Rocky A. Coss denied Panzeca’s continuance request and a motion to stay proceedings, citing a victim’s rights to a timely trial, although Panzeca pointed out that if the trial was moved to August, it would still be within the statutory time frame to have the case tried. The attorney and she didn’t see how Shepard could be faulted for a delay in the trial when “there was such a delay in indicting anybody.”

“That had nothing to do with Mr. Shepard,” she said.

For anyone interested in following the case, The State of Ohio ex rel. Chelsea J. Panzeca, Esq. and Ronald W. Shepard v. The Highland County Court of Common Pleas, case number 023-0582 would be a good start.

Pregnant Criminal Defense Lawyer On Bed Rest Loses Trial-Delay Bid In Top State Court [ABA Journal]
Split Ohio High Court Spurns Pregnant Atty’s Trial Delay Bid [Law360]

Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.  He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at and by tweet at @WritesForRent.


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