Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Elyria 30°

Cops and Courts

Client sues, attorney countersues over alleged non-disclosure of plea deal


ELYRIA — An attorney being sued by a former client for allegedly not disclosing a possible plea deal with the client’s new counsel has filed a countersuit.

Last week, a lawsuit was filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court against attorney Anthony Baker by attorney Brian Darling on behalf of Devante Gibbs, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the rape of a then-2-year-old girl in March.

Gibbs fled while the jury in case was deliberating. He was arrested in California and returned to Ohio for sentencing.

In the lawsuit, Darling accused Baker of failing to disclose a plea deal that would have seen Gibbs sentenced to eight years in prison for pleading guilty to child endangering. Gibbs is asking for more than $1 million in damages, attorney fees and court costs.

Baker said the claim simply isn’t true.

“Here’s the ironic part: The plea agreement was not much of a plea agreement,” he said Tuesday. “The prosecutor said, ‘Hey, you can plead to the indictment and you’ll get eight years — that’s what I’m going to ask for.’ They knew about the underlying rape charge. They couldn’t prove it initially.”

Gibbs initially was charged with two counts of child endangering, but those charges eventually were dropped once the prosecutor acquired more evidence against him. He later was indicted on charges of rape and kidnapping, charges that carry a much steeper maximum sentence.

“The reason I filed the countersuit is twofold,” Baker said. “One, it’s just a flat-out lie. I could just turn the other cheek and defend it, but I think the best course of action is to respond the way that I have. The second part is that the attorney that filed has twisted this case, and I don’t think that’s good behavior for an attorney.”

In the countersuit, which was filed Monday, Baker is asking to be awarded compensatory damages of $1 million, that would come from Gibbs’ income from employment and/or any money deposited on his prison commissary account while serving his life sentence, be garnished and paid to the victim and her mother.

He also wants Darling to be made to apologize in open court “for filing this frivolous claim.”

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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