Lack of Professionalism Leads to a Two Year Suspension in Florida

A Florida attorney recently received a tougher sanction than what the Florida Bar and a court-appointed referee sought for unprofessional behavior. The Bar filed a complaint against the attorney alleging, “he engaged in numerous acts of misconduct by behaving in an unprofessional and antagonistic manner during the course of litigating a civil case.” The complaint is notable as it is primarily based upon a lack of professional conduct by the attorney.  A referee was appointed to consider the complaint and hold hearings, and he ultimately recommended that the attorney be found to have violated the following Florida Rules of Professional Conduct: 4-3.5(c) for disrupting a tribunal, 4-8.2(a) for making false statements, 4-8.4(a) for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct, and 4-8.4(d) for engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

While the referee recommended a 90-day suspension and the Florida Bar asked for a one-year suspension, the Florida Supreme Court ultimately decided on a two-year suspension, a public reprimand, probation for eighteen months upon reinstatement to the Florida Bar, a mental health evaluation, and an award of $7,970.53 to be paid to the Florida Bar.

Read more

The attorney’s incivility and unprofessionalism included exhibiting rude behavior, yelling during courtroom hearings, falsely accusing a senior judge of criminal conduct, and disparaging and humiliating opposing counsel. His behavior was so intolerable that one judge accepted his recusal motion and another referred him to a general magistrate after unsuccessfully asking him to lower his voice on several occasions. While the attorney claimed that his voice is “naturally loud” and that he only raises his voice when he feels he is not being heard, the referee concluded that his behavior was calculated. It was found that when the attorney “felt he was not winning during a particular hearing, he would raise his voice and behave in an angry, disrespectful manner.” As to his behavior towards opposing counsel, the attorney sent him seven antagonistic letters, through both e-mail and mail, and on several occasions personally accused opposing counsel of being a liar, in some instances in front of other attorneys. The opposing counsel had an unblemished career as a member of the Florida Bar and there was no sign of misconduct on his part. The Florida Supreme Court opinion suggests that, “Members of The Florida Bar, law professors, and law students should study the instant case as a glaring example of unprofessional behavior.” Click here to read more and click here to view the decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *