July 1, 2010
Hourly Fees As Life Capital: Not
The Florida Supreme Court rejected a referee's proposed six-month suspension and slammed the attorney with permanent disbarment. The attorney refuses to file and pay income tax on the income generated from his law practice.
His view: "his time was his life capital and, in practicing law, he was trading his life capital for an hourly fee, both of equal value." The court found that this contention was "devoid of merit and lacks any basis in established law."
The attorney had not helped his cause by advising the court at oral argument that he had no intention of paying taxes in the future. The court rejected the contention that the absence of a criminal conviction precluded discipline. The court concluded that the proposed short suspension was unduly lenient in light of the attorney's expressed intention to violate tax laws
In the case currently under consideration, he has openly declared his intention at oral argument to persist in refusing to file income tax returns "[u[nless the law changes or unless someone can show me a law that makes me clearly liable for income tax, for federal income tax"...By his own voluntary actions, [he] has forfeited his privilege to practice law.
The only appropriate sanction under these circumstances-cumulative misconduct and a persistent course of unrepentant misconduct-is permanent disbarment from the practice of law.
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