Lawyer who talked to Tressel was a former OSU Walk-on

Submitted by Seth9 on March 9th, 2011 at 7:18 PM

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the lawyer who contacted Tressel was former-OSU walk-on Chris Cicero, whose time at OSU overlapped with Tressl's time as an assistant at OSU. Cicero, apparently, has a history of unethical conduct, which is not remotely surprising as he probably should not have been talking to Tressel in the first place.

There are a lot of ways to interpret this information. But even if we take Tressel's word that his concern was for maintaining confidentiality, it appears that Tressel chose to keep quiet to protect his former player at the expense of the institution and with clear disregard for the rules.  Now, while this is in some way understandable from a personal standpoint, it is completely indfensible from a professional one.



March 9th, 2011 at 7:57 PM ^

Didn't the email say he learned this information when the guy came into his office and told him?

I could be wrong but I think that was the operating assumption. I guess it could have come from a case file or something, but from my reading, the guy told him.

Edit: He said that friends told him about the raid, but the client told him about the sales. So shouldn't the information about the sales be confidential (he claims it is in the email).


March 9th, 2011 at 8:04 PM ^

Cicero also uses the phrase "told me" several times, after saying that the discussion took place in his law office. He's also said the man would not speak publicly about this. I'm not a lawyer but is the unethical nature of this really that complicated when taking all that into account?

03 Blue 07

March 9th, 2011 at 8:23 PM ^

So? If he's not his client (he being Tattoo guy), then, again, where's the privilege? By that logic, I, as an attorney, cannot repeat anything ever said to me in my office by someone who doesn't work with me. That's not the law, at least in Illinois.

I think a lot of people are making some key leaps here-- leaps such as "tattoo guy was his client" and "well, tattoo guy was in his office, so it HAD TO BE IN CONFIDENCE." No, man. No. Only if it's your client, or in the investigation of a case to determine whether or not the person WILL be your client. At least, that's how I understand it. There are key details that I feel like people are glossing over in their haste. I'm with Geaux Blue in my interpretation of the emails, btw.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:26 PM ^

When I replied to you before I brought this up but it's relevent here too. I don't know when this all gets locked in, but if you have a person who is discussing evidence against them in a case, and asking for legal advice based on that evidence, doesn't that stand to reason that this guy is most likely a client?


March 9th, 2011 at 8:38 PM ^

at that point, no question. this guy is screwed with the Ohio Bar based upon giving out what the state was pursuing against the dealer to Tressel. completely. it's how people prevent their court opponent from getting attorneys - they show up for a consultation and provide 2-3 details and then say thanks bye. it prevents the attorney from representing the opponent bc of expected priviledge. 

this attorney seems to just be a nosy OSU fan up until he gets asked for sentencing advice.

Blue In NC

March 9th, 2011 at 9:30 PM ^

As soon as you start giving legal advice to an individual and the person listening is relying on your professional advice, then bingo you have an attorney-client relationship (unless you otherwise make it clear you are not representing them).  Anything disclosed after that point in a professional capacity unless made to others or in public should be confidential.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

the only thing that the guy seems to tell in volation of attorney-client is the possible sentencing the drug dealer faced. it appears the original visits were social, or do not explicilty represent a professional arrangement. meh. the first email is all i am focused on bc it's sufficient alone for action, regardless of the rest, and it does not relate any sort of priviledge to be respected and Tressel has zero excuse for not immediately forwarding it to compliance/his boss.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:28 PM ^

I think you're right about the first email being the most important for Tressel, but for this guy, I think he strongly implies that he was advising him as a lawyer. No idea what it takes to actually be a client as opposed to "under advice" or something similar, but to me this seems shady, especially since he explicitly said the information was confidential.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:36 PM ^

and perhaps bar association slap on the wrist until the guy asks for sentencing advice. it's debatable that the guy would expect privilege since they meet in the law office but if he could prove this was more out of comfort than anything, it wouldn't be an issue. tressel assuredly knows none of this crap and, further, is a huge liar if he claims he got this email and then just twiddled his thumbs for two weeks until the guy emailed him again - i'd be on the phone in a heartbeat yet tressel is claiming he didn't follow up other than Happy Easter go bucks -jt ?


March 9th, 2011 at 8:30 PM ^

See the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, and specifically the Comment 3 to Rule 1.6:

"...The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct or other law."

Attorney-client privilege may not extend to these pieces of information, but the duty of confidentiality extends beyond the evidentiary protections of the A-C privildge.  That the information came from outside sources would not relieve the attorney of his obligation to maintain the confidence of such information.


March 9th, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

That would explain the tone of familiarity between him and Coach Tressel.  Still, it's completely unethical of both parties to act as they did.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:05 PM ^

thanks for another black eye on toledo (sorry current student there and all news there is bad news lately, point shaving scandals and now dumbass lawyers) on the plus side hes really knocking this out of the park for anyone who dislikes osu.. that a boy!


March 9th, 2011 at 7:25 PM ^

If the tattoo shop owner was his client, this guy deserves to be disbarred and sued for every penny he'll ever make. I'm glad to catch Tressel lying and cheating, but this is a much bigger and more serious issue in the big picture.


March 9th, 2011 at 9:14 PM ^

because the guy was nosy and wanted all the details. when he first emails Tressel he just has info from law enforcement. Rife subsequently visits him, no doubt a mining trip on the part of the lawyer to find out more and feed it to OSU.

there's a weird legal subculture in Columbus it appears as it seems they're all talking to each other - prosecution, defense, etc.


March 9th, 2011 at 9:17 PM ^

Don't all lawyers talk to each other to a degree, though?  Especially when negotiating plea bargains?  It wouldn't make sense for some of the most highly-skilled workers in any community to split their communication--and their political power--because some of them are prosecutors and others are defense attorneys.  It's called the Bar Association, not the Defense Association and the Prosecution Association.


March 9th, 2011 at 9:25 PM ^

but usually that's limited to those in the criminal sector. New Orleans, where I worked, was incestuous when it came to everyone knowing everyone, etc, and you still didn't have random tort attorneys getting the info from prosecutors and defense attorneys, etc.  there's a healthy suspicion in most legal arenas where people don't want to reveal something that can get them fucked in a future case bc someone notes their big mouth from the other side of the counsel table.  

i almost feel bad for rife as it appears everyone was gossiping about how screwed he was 


March 9th, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

If your *best*-case scenario is a ten-year plea bargain, I suppose that would count as being pretty screwed for sure.  Then email guy figures he'll tip off ol' Coach Tressel and let him know what's up.  Tressel didn't want to risk the NC run and did nothing, but didn't think to erase the emails.  Shocking, but truth really is stranger than fiction sometimes.


March 9th, 2011 at 7:26 PM ^

You can forward information without revealing its source.  Why does everyone buy into the logic that protecting the source means not telling another soul about the allegations?


March 9th, 2011 at 7:32 PM ^

For people (OSU fans) that want to believe Tressel, this is one of many things that they are ignoring to completely buy his excuse. For everyone else, this is a non-issue because we don't buy the confidentiality argument in the first place because it doesn't fit the timeline or explain his lying to the school and the NCAA.

Happy Gilmore

March 9th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

He will have to be de-barred no matter what state he is practicing law in...that is a HUGE breach of confidentiality by him. I wouldn't be suprised if the feds goes after him as well for the risk of compromising a federal investigation.

03 Blue 07

March 9th, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

Again, how? You are making a lot of key assumptions. One: that tattoo guy was his client. Two: that he had direct knowledge from a source inside the investigation-- a person in the FBI-- regarding confidential and illicit information.

Or there's the more likely thing: he knows some guys in law enforcement, and knows tattoo guy. I have lots of friends. I have lots of clients. They don't usually overlap, believe it or not. I don't have an attorney-client privilege with my friends. What if tattoo guy was in his office giving him a tattoo for some gold pants because, as a former walk-on, the lawyer had a pair? Is it all okay then? Does he need to be disbarred then? (The answer is "yes, for poor taste in tatoo artists.").


March 9th, 2011 at 9:21 PM ^

no way in hell Ohio puts up with or sets a standard a client can go in, tell a lawyer he killed a guy and is being offered 25 yrs ("is that good?") and then that attorney chooses not to represent him but can provide that info.

anything discussed during the process of hiring an attorney is considered priviledge until the point the relationship is dissolved by the attorney explicilty turning down the position. attorney strung him along and fed the info. 

the funniest thing in all of it is he says he can't get any more info because others are invoking/honoring privilege due to the case moving towards a plea.


March 9th, 2011 at 7:33 PM ^

Look at the emails. He barely writes 3~4 lines in reply to multiple full pages of information. It looks as if Tressel barely knows the guy, let alone is close enough to him that he will commit major violations to protect him.


And in the last email Tressel ASKS THE GUY FOR MORE INFO AND NAMES. Is that not another example of a coach purposely asking a guy to break his confidentiality agreement with his client?


Not once in the emails does Tressel seem the least bit concerned with the lawyer.


I also call BS that Tressel was afraid for his players. Afraid of what??? A tat shop owner with some cash who was ALREADY being nailed by the FEDS???? Whats the guy gonna do? Shoot the most popular players of the OSU team while the feds are eating donuts a block away for something(discount tats) that completely pales compared to drug charges?


March 9th, 2011 at 7:41 PM ^

Tressel was afraid that his preseason #2 ranking would dissolve into a crappy season.  It's that simple.  It just is.    

Listening to 97.1 today was less satisfying than I thought it was because they were tougher on Tressel than most of this board.  Callers also weren't really buying the argument for the same reasons described numerous times here.  One weird meme developing in Ohio is that Tressel has volunteered to lie down under the bus to protect someone else, possibly Smith.