Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unauthorized Practice

In separate opinions, the Ohio Supreme Court sanctioned non-lawyers for the unauthorized practice of law. In one matter, the court's web page summmarizes the findings:

In a decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio agreed with a holding by the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law that Bruce A. Jackim of Middleburg Heights, who is not licensed or registered as an attorney in Ohio, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when he prepared and filed a motion on behalf of another person, Coralie Jurick, in a foreclosure action pending before the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that although Jackim was authorized by a durable power of attorney form signed by Jurick to act as her agent and sign legal documents on her behalf, that authorization did not permit Jackim to undertake actions that constitute the practice of law, including the preparation and filing of motions in a court proceeding.

The Court quoted from its 2004 decision in Cleveland Bar Association v. CompManagement Inc. explaining that the restriction of the practice of law to persons who have met the licensing requirements for attorneys at law is designed to “protect the public against incompetence, divided loyalties and other attendant evils often association with unskilled representation.”

The Court issued an injunction ordering Jackim to desist from any further activities on behalf of others that constitute the practice of law. In light of the facts that Jackim was charged with a single infraction, did not charge for the services he provided to Jurick and did not cause financial harm to anyone, the Court accepted the board’s recommendation that no civil penalty be imposed in the case.

In the second matter:

The Supreme Court of Ohio today adopted findings by the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law that Leon Boyd of Cleveland, who has never been licensed as an attorney, engaged in unauthorized legal practice by preparing and filing documents on behalf of two “clients” in cases before the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. 

In one case, Boyd prepared and filed a divorce complaint and affidavit of indigency with the court. In the other case he filed a complaint for a legal separation and affidavit of indigency. In both cases the indigency affidavits Boyd prepared did not include required financial information to support the client’s claim for a waiver of court fees, and the forms were not properly notarized.

Noting that the Supreme Court had cited Boyd for similar unauthorized practice of law in 2006 and enjoined him at that time from such activity in the future, the Court imposed the maximum civil penalty of $10,000 for each of his two new violations and again enjoined Boyd from future acts of unauthorized practice. The Court also stated that, upon a motion by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association in Boyd’s 2006 case, it would order him to show cause why he should not be found in contempt of the Court’s 2006 injunction.

The link to the web page will direct you to the decisions. (Mike Frisch)


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