Friday, May 18, 2007
A recent decision of the Florida Supreme Court suspended an attorney for one year for misconduct in two matters. The first complaint involved an ownership dispute between the accused and another attorney (now disbarred for a felony drug conviction) over a building that housed their separate law practices. The accused executed a promissory note for a 1/3 interest and rejected offers to sell the interest back. He then filed a police report alleging that the other lawyer had assaulted him and removed his files. Litigation- one case involving a meritless request by the accused for an injunction against violence from the other lawyer, the other for partition of the building- ensued. The partition matter settled and the accused filed an affidavit changing his story about having seen the other lawyer with a loaded pistol in the office. He also made accusations against the judge in the partition case and a former paralegal of the other lawyer. The second complaint involved contempt for two instances of in-court bad behavior.
The Florida referee found the accused had violated numerous ethics rules involving frivolous litigation and false statements to a tribunal. There was prior discipline, a pattern of misconduct and a failure to acknowledge wrongdoing. The referee also found, and the court agreed, that the attorney's "inability to grasp the problematic nature of his conduct are enough to raise the issue of [his] mental stability." The court rejected the referee's proposed ninety-one day suspension in favor of a one year time out because the accused had lied under oath. The court aptly notes in quoting an earlier case: "Our condemnation of this type of misconduct is not of recent vintage."(Mike Frisch)