Cleveland Metro. Bar Ass'n v. Brooks, 2022-0714

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation2022 Ohio 3712
PartiesCleveland Metropolitan Bar Association v. Brooks.
Docket Number2022-0714
Decision Date20 October 2022

2022-Ohio-3712

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
v.

Brooks.

No. 2022-0714

Supreme Court of Ohio

October 20, 2022


Submitted August 2, 2022

On Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court, No. 2021-019.

Christopher Joseph Klasa, Bar Counsel, and Stephanie R. Anderson, Deputy Bar Counsel, for relator.

Robert Chester Brooks II, pro se.

PER CURIAM

{¶ 1} Respondent, Robert Chester Brooks II, of Cleveland, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0040881, was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1988. On November 1, 2019, we suspended Brooks's license for failing to register as an attorney for the 2019/2020 biennium. In re Attorney Registration of Brooks, 157 Ohio St.3d 1472, 2019-Ohio-4529, 134 N.E.3d 183. On October 14, 2020, we

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suspended his license again for failing to comply with the continuing-legal-education ("CLE") requirements of Gov.Bar R. X. 160 Ohio St.3d 1424, 2020-Ohio-4908, 155 N.E.3d 918. Those suspensions remain in effect.

{¶ 2} In July 2021, relator, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, charged Brooks with violating the Rules of Professional Conduct for, among other things, continuing to practice law after his attorney-registration and CLE suspensions had been imposed. Brooks stipulated to the charged misconduct, but the parties could not agree on a recommended sanction. After a hearing, the Board of Professional Conduct issued a report finding that Brooks had engaged in the stipulated misconduct and recommending that we indefinitely suspend him and impose a condition on his potential reinstatement to the practice of law. Neither party has objected to the board's report.

{¶ 3} Based on our independent review of the record, we adopt the board's findings of misconduct and its recommended sanction.

Misconduct

{¶ 4} When we imposed Brooks's attorney-registration suspension in November 2019, we ordered that he "immediately cease and desist from the practice of law in any form" and we expressly prohibited him from "appearing] on behalf of another before any court [or] judge." 157 Ohio St.3d 1472, 2019-Ohio-4529, 134 N.E.3d 183. Although Brooks received notice of the suspension in December 2019, he continued to practice law. In February 2020, he represented a client in a contempt hearing in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court. In July 2020, he appeared as counsel at a hearing in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. In August 2020, he filed a motion in a different case pending in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and in the same case he attempted to appear at a September 2020 hearing, although the judge prohibited Brooks from participating after learning of his suspension. Brooks told the judge that he had

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already sent in his registration fees and fine, but he had not done so. Brooks failed to notify the other courts that his license was suspended.

{¶ 5} As noted above, on October 14, 2020, we imposed Brooks's CLE suspension. A few days later, relator notified Brooks that it had received a grievance alleging that he had been practicing law while under suspension. Brooks responded to the grievance in November 2020. Despite his knowledge of both suspensions and relator's investigation, Brooks continued to practice law. In November 2020 through March 2021, he appeared on behalf of a client at four hearings in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. Brooks failed to notify that court of his suspension before any of those hearings. In February 2021, he filed a notice of appearance and a request for discovery in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court, although the following month, he moved to withdraw and advised the court of his suspension.

{¶ 6} Relator notified Brooks that it had received two more grievances against him and requested that he respond to each. Brooks, however, failed to do so. In May 2021, Brooks spoke on the telephone with relator's counsel, who asked Brooks to provide him with a list of all matters in which Brooks had appeared as counsel while under suspension. Brooks failed to provide the list. In July 2021, relator filed its disciplinary complaint, and Brooks waived his right to a determination of probable cause. Despite Brooks's awareness of the complaint, he continued to represent a client in a matter pending in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas until December 2021, a little over a month before his disciplinary hearing.

{¶ 7} The board concluded that Brooks "showed...

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