Friday, February 4, 2011
The Florida Supreme Court accepted a referee's findings that an attorney was in contempt of a suspension order as a result of his continuing practice of law but rejected the proposed sanction of, in effect, a concurrent suspension nunc pro tunc to the earlier three-year suspension. Finding the contempt to be more than a "technical" violation, the court imposed disbarment.
Three days after the suspension, the attorney appeared (along with counsel who took over his practice) in an immigration matter. Neither attorney advised the court of the suspension. He conceded that, after suspension, he continued to meet with clients and assist new counsel.
The court found no basis to depart from the presumptive sanction of disbarment.
Concurring, Justice Pariente disgreed with the principal opinion on a procedural default issue and chastised the Bar for its arguments on the point:
Bar counsel's inaccurate representations concerning the record are exceedingly troubling. All sides in bar prosecutions must conduct themselves according to the applicable rules, without misleading the opposing party or this court.
Words to warm the heart of any accused attorney who feels unfairly treated at the hands of a bar prosecutor. Justice Pariente notes that the representations persisted throughout oral argument and were not thereafter corrected. (Mike Frisch)