Herbert R. Brown ’53

B.A., Denison University, 1953
J.D., Univ. of Michigan Law School, 1956

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Writer
Columbus, OH

Citation awarded June, 2003

Herbert R. Brown began his legal career as a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate’s Office of the United States Air Force, from 1957-1960. Upon returning to Columbus, he joined the law firm of Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease, where he practiced trial law and became a partner in the firm. In 1987, he was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court.

About his term of service on the Ohio Supreme Court, political commentator Duane St. Claire said in The Columbus Dispatch that “Brown’s place became the middle ground. His opinions often gave the impression he never heard a political whistle in the wind when he considered legal issues, something not as obvious about many, if not all, of his brethren.”

After one six-year term on the Court, Herb retired in 1993 to devote his time to writing, previously a life-long avocation. He wrote a play, “The Power of God,” which was produced professionally. He is also the author of two successful novels of crime and courtroom drama, published by the Donald I. Fine Company—Presumption of Guilt (1991) and Shadows of Doubt (1994). Both were well received. Presumption of Guilt, a suspense novel about child abuse, merited the Philadelphia Inquirer’s description as “in the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, and not to be missed.” In 1992, it was reissued in paperback by Berkley Books. Shadows of Doubt, which addresses domestic violence, was a selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club. Herb has also authored articles that have appeared in journals such as Columbus Monthly.

Following his term on the court, Herb served as an arbitrator in a complex litigation for the American Arbitration Association. He is currently a commissioner on the Ohio Ethics Commission. Previously, Herb was an Ohio and federal bar examiner and helped develop the multi-state bar examination. In 1967 he was appointed a Federal Land Commissioner to adjudicate appropriate cases, and in 1981 was appointed a Lake Lands Commissioner.

Herb has served on the Board of Directors of the James Thurber House (1992-94) and the Central Community House (1967-75), both in Columbus. Since 1993, he has been a Trustee of the Columbus Bar Foundation and served as Bar Foundation president during 2001-02.

We honor Herbert R. “Herb” Brown ’53 for his commitment to even-handed justice, to his community, and to his own creative impulses.