Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Attorney Disciplined for Practicing Law While Suspended

A Cleveland lawyer was indefinitely suspended by the Supreme Court of Ohio today for continuing to handle cases and attend court hearings while under suspensions for violations of attorney conduct rules.

The Supreme Court had suspended Robert Brooks II from practicing law in November 2019 for not registering as an attorney and in October 2020 for failing to comply with legal education requirements. However, Brooks represented clients in Cuyahoga County courts in 2020 and 2021.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association filed the complaints against Brooks, and the association and the attorney disagreed about the appropriate sanction. In today’s unanimous per curiam opinion, the Court adopted the Board of Professional Conduct’s recommendation of an indefinite suspension.

Attorney Directed to Stop Practicing Law
When Brooks was suspended in November 2019, the Supreme Court ordered him to “immediately cease and desist from the practice of law in any form” and prohibited him from “appear[ing] on behalf of another before any court [or] judge.”

Despite the Court order, Brooks kept representing clients in Garfield Heights Municipal Court and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. After the October 2020 suspension, Brooks continued to practice law, appearing four times on behalf of one client in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court from November 2020 through March 2021. The attorney was aware of both suspensions and the bar association’s investigation, yet he failed to notify the courts of his suspensions, today’s opinion stated.

Attorney Avoids Disciplinary Inquiries
In its report to the Court about the matter, the board noted the bar association repeatedly requested information from Brooks about his ongoing representation of clients while suspended, but he either failed to provide, or submitted incomplete or inaccurate, information. The board stated that he showed “a sheer unwillingness to cooperate in the disciplinary process.”

Brooks and the bar association later agreed, and the board found , that he violated multiple professional conduct rules by knowingly disobeying court rules; practicing law in violation of the legal profession’s regulations; and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation. Brooks also failed to maintain professional liability insurance and did not inform his clients in writing that he lacked insurance.

The board concluded that an indefinite suspension was necessary to protect the public “due to [Brooks’] continued course of conduct to completely disregard his suspension and the disciplinary process.”

Although Brooks testified he had a mental health disorder and would benefit from treatment, the board determined he did not prove he had a disorder that qualifies under the rules as a mitigating factor. However, before Brooks can be reinstated to the practice of law, the board recommended that he present proof of a mental health evaluation and that he comply with any treatment recommendations.

The Court adopted the recommended sanction and the condition for reinstatement and ordered Brooks to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

2022-0714. Cleveland Metro. Bar Assn. v. Brooks, Slip Opinion No. 2022-Ohio-3712.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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