March 3, 2011
Sex With Clients Draws Suspension, Not Probation
The Florida Supreme Court affirmed findings of misconduct where a defense attorney had engaged in sexual relationships with two clients. However, the court rejected the referee's proposed probation in favor of a one-year "rehabilitative suspension."
The attorney was admitted in 2006. He did not have written retainer agreements and received no fee from either client. He provided financial assistance to both clients on several occasions. He also asked one of the clients to refer prospective clients to him.
The court found that the attorney had engaged in a conflict of interest:
While the attorney did not trade legal services for sexual favors, his conduct undoubtedly gave the appearance of impropriety. [The attorney] never entered into a written fee agreement with either client, he never received any monetary fees from either client, and he repeatedly met with both women at their homes or in restaurants to discuss their cases, rather than in a professional office setting.
The court rejected probation for the violation of multiple ethics rules. (Mike Frisch)
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