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White v. Ohio Public Defender

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 17, 2019

Darrell White, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Public Defender, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio Ct. of Cl. No. 2018-01514JD

         On brief:

          Darrell White, pro se.

          Dave Yost, Attorney General, and Samantha J. Scherger, for appellee.

          DECISION

          BEATTY BLUNT, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Darrell White, appeals from an entry of the Court of Claims of Ohio granting the motion to dismiss of defendant-appellee, Ohio Public Defender ("OPD"). For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On December 18, 2018, White filed a complaint in the Court of Claims. The complaint alleges that White was arrested and notified of his Miranda rights. At his arraignment, White informed the court that he wanted an attorney to be appointed and White paid a $25 fee. The court appointed attorney Greg Donahue. Afterward, White chose to be represented by attorney Ken Rexford. Subsequently, White sent three letters to OPD inquiring about his criminal case: one on September 26, 2018, one on October 1, 2018, and one on October 9, 2018.

         {¶ 3} On October 16, 2018, Kenneth Spiert, an assistant state public defender, responded on behalf of OPD to White in the form of a letter which White attached to his complaint as Exhibit A. The letter states it was being sent in response to White's three previous letters to OPD in which White requested OPD's assistance with filing civil lawsuits in federal court. The letter further states that in 2015, White filed a civil lawsuit against OPD and by doing so, White "created a conflict of interests that prohibits this office from advising you or representing you now and in the future. Prof. Cond. Rule 1.7. Therefore, this office must decline your request for assistance."

         {¶ 4} White further alleges in his complaint that the failure of OPD to represent him deprived him of his right to legal counsel and his chance of freedom. Alternatively, White seeks redress for alleged violations of the right to counsel established by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. White demanded $7 million as compensation for his claim.

         {¶ 5} OPD responded to White's complaint with a January 16, 2019 motion to dismiss, arguing the trial court should dismiss White's complaint in its entirety pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1) and (6). White then filed a belated memorandum contra OPD's motion to dismiss on March 7, 2019. Despite being untimely, the trial court considered White's response.

         {¶ 6} In a March 21, 2019 entry, the trial court granted OPD's motion to dismiss. The trial court found White's complaint sounded in legal malpractice, but that White failed to allege the formation of an attorney-client relationship between White and OPD. Further, the trial court concluded that to the extent White's complaint asserted claims for violations of his constitutional rights-whether based on the Sixth Amendment or any other constitutional basis-it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over such alleged violations. Thus, the trial court granted OPD's motion and dismissed White's complaint in its entirety pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1) and (6). White timely appeals.

         II. Assignments of Error

         {¶ 7} White assigns two sets of nine errors ...


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