Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court, Housing Division
Case No. 2014-CVG763
APPELLANT Bruce A. Brown, pro se.
APPELLEE Cornelius Durden, pro se.
BEFORE: Blackmon, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and Stewart, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, JUDGE.
This cause came to be heard upon the accelerated calendar
pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc.R. 11.1. Bruce A. Brown
("Brown") appeals pro se from the municipal
court's judgment entry granting $117, 000 against him and
in favor of Cornelius Durden ("Durden"). Brown
assigns the following sole error for our review:
I. The Supreme Court of Ohio has exclusive jurisdiction over
the unauthorized practice of law.
Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we affirm the
court's decision. The apposite facts follow.
In May 2011, Durden paid Brown $9, 000 "to help him
negotiate with the county concerning taxes" relating to
a foreclosure action against Durden. Brown took no action on
Durden's behalf, and in August 2013, Michael Carter
("Carter") purchased Durden's property at a tax
foreclosure sale. In January 2014, Carter initiated eviction
proceedings against Durden in the Cleveland Municipal Court,
On October 1, 2014, Durden filed a third-party complaint
against Brown alleging fraud, breach of contract, promissory
estoppel, unjust enrichment, and quiet title. Brown, acting
pro se, filed an answer summarily denying all allegations and
raising the following affirmative defenses: the third-party
complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted" and "is barred by the Third-Party
Plaintiffs own acts and omissions." According to the
docket, Brown's answer is the only appearance or filing
he made in the case.
On May 11, 2015, the court adopted the magistrate's
decision finding in favor of Durden on the fraud claim.
Although there is no transcript,  the magistrate's
decision states that the court held a hearing on April 29,
2015. Brown claims that he did not attend this hearing
because he was incarcerated. The magistrate's decision
concluded, in pertinent part, the following:
Durden is entitled to recover damages from Bruce Brown for
fraud. Brown intentionally misrepresented to Durden that he
was an attorney and would work on Durden's behalf
concerning taxes owed to the county. Brown * * * took no
action on Durden's behalf. Instead, he continued to lie
to Durden until he was uncovered because of a criminal action
filed against him.
The court awarded Durden $17, 000 in compensatory damages
and, after finding that "Brown's fraud was
malicious, " $100, 000 in punitive damages. It is from
this order that Brown appeals.
Brown's argument is that the Ohio Supreme Court has
exclusive jurisdiction over the "unauthorized practice
of law" under R.C. 4705.07(A)(3). "Only the supreme
court may make a determination that any person has committed
the unauthorized practice of law in ...