Archive for the ‘attorney discipline’ Category

Local attorney disciplined for professional misconduct

November 17, 2013

A Victoria attorney accepted a public reprimand from the Commission for Lawyer Discipline for not returning an unearned fee.

Attorney Mark Davis paid restitution to the man who filed the grievance when the judgment was issued Sept. 11. It was unclear in the ruling how much was paid.

The Advocate attempted to reach Davis daily beginning Nov. 7. He did not return phone calls.

Raja Hugh Belleth hired Davis in June 2011 to represent him in a divorce case filed in Harris County. He agreed to pay an advance fee of $5,000 and $200 per hour for other legal services.

After Belleth’s wife filed the divorce petition in June 2011, she took no further action. Belleth tried to terminate Davis’ representation as well as request a refund Nov. 2, 2011, according to the grievance petition.

When Belleth did not hear back, he hired another attorney, who emailed Davis on Nov. 16, 2011 to request the unused funds.

Davis replied that he was finalizing an invoice and would return the unused retainer, but it never arrived in the mail, according to the petition.

On Jan. 2, Belleth emailed Davis about the matter again. He received no response.
Court documents also show Davis did not respond to the Aug. 29 grievance in a timely manner.

Full Article and Source:
Local attorney disciplined for professional misconduct

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November lawyer discipline – 2 from Houston, 14 other Texans

November 8, 2013

Disciplinary Actions — November 2013 list (verbatim from the State Bar of Texas)
General questions regarding attorney discipline should be directed to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office, toll-free (877) 953-5535 or (512) 453-5535. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals may be reached at (512) 475-1578. Information and copies of actual orders are available at www.txboda.org. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct may be contacted toll-free, (877) 228-5750 or (512) 463-5533. Please note that persons disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not necessarily licensed attorneys.

HOUSTON AREA

REINSTATEMENTS
On Oct. 1, 2013, McCuller C. Stephens III [#19158750], 56, of Houston, filed a petition in the 295th District Court of Harris County (Cause No. 2013-58703) for reinstatement as a member of the State Bar of Texas.

SUSPENSIONS
A notice in the October issue indicated that David Patrick Smitherman [#24027992], 39, of Houston, received a three-year partially probated suspension on July 19, 2013, and that Smitherman had filed a notice of appeal. As the result of an order signed by the trial judge, the sanctions set forth in the judgment have been stayed during the pendency of the appeal, so that Smitherman has not been placed on suspension.  At all times since the judgment was signed on July 19, Smitherman has been in good standing with the Bar, and he remains in good standing at the present time.
On Sept. 5, 2013, Quinon A. Brooker [#24053771], 36, of Houston, accepted a one-year fully probated suspension effective Aug. 15, 2013. An evidentiary panel of the District 4 Grievance Committee found that in representing his client, Brooker neglected the legal matter entrusted to him. Brooker failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of her civil suit and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. Brooker violated Rules 1.01(b)(1) and 1.03(a). He was ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution and $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

REST OF THE STATE

DISBARMENTS
On June 28, 2013, Craig F. Sandling [#17621700], 59, of Austin, was disbarred. An evidentiary panel of the District 9 Grievance Committee found that complainant hired Sandling on or about March 9, 2012, to secure his release from jail and to represent him in five criminal cases. Complainant paid Sandling $29,500, of which $20,000 was an advanced fee for Sandling to represent complainant in the criminal cases, and the remaining $9,500 was paid to a bail bonds company to secure complainant’s release from jail. Sandling did not deposit any of the fees paid for complainant’s representation into a trust or escrow account. Complainant terminated the representation shortly thereafter and requested a refund of unearned fees. Sandling did minimal work to obtain complainant’s release but did not enter a notice of appearance in any of his cases. Sandling failed to return any unearned fees. Sandling violated Rules 1.14(a), 1.14(c), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(1). Sandling was ordered to pay $19,500 in restitution and $9,551.94 in attorneys’ fees and expenses. Sandling has filed an appeal.

RESIGNATIONS
On Sept. 30, 2013, the Supreme Court of Texas accepted the resignation, in lieu of discipline, of Alto V. Watson III [#20932800], 53, of Beaumont. While employed at a law firm, Watson wrongfully billed clients separately for his services and personally accepted client funds meant for the law firm and deposited the funds into his personal accounts for his own use and benefit. Additionally, on Aug. 5, 2013, Watson was placed on five years deferred adjudication for the offense of theft. As part of the terms of supervision, Watson was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $29,320 and was also ordered to surrender his law license to the State Bar of Texas. Watson violated Rules 1.14(a), 1.14(b), 8.04(a)(2), and 8.04(a)(3).

SUSPENSIONS
On Aug. 21, 2013, Stuart L. Leeds [#12151500], 58, of El Paso, agreed to a five-month active suspension effective Aug. 1, 2013. The District 17 Grievance Committee found Leeds unreasonably increased the cost and burdens of the case or unreasonably delayed resolution of the matter. Leeds violated Rule 3.02 and was ordered to pay $1,500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Aug. 6, 2013, Allyson A. Egan Rowe [#24030173], 48, of Round Rock, received a two-year partially probated suspension effective Oct. 1, 2013, with six months actively suspended and the remainder probated. An evidentiary panel of the District 8 Grievance Committee found that on Feb. 7, 2012, Rowe was convicted of assault by strangulation/family violence, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said sentence being probated for a period of five years subject to conditions of supervision imposed by the court. In early April 2011, Rowe, knowing that a criminal investigation or official proceeding was pending or in progress on the above-referenced matter, prepared and presented an affidavit for a family member that contained materially false statements concerning evidence of the assault/family violence incident, with the intent to have the family member sign the affidavit and to present it to authorities during the investigation. The family member refused to sign the affidavit. The affidavit prepared by Rowe contained materially false statements concerning evidence of the assault/family violence incident that resulted in Rowe’s conviction as referenced above.  Rowe violated Rules 8.04(a)(2) and 8.04(a)(3). She was ordered to pay $1,199.02 in direct expenses.

On Aug. 23, 2013, Jacques Evan Trevino [#00797571], 45, of Edinburg, received a seven-year partially probated suspension effective Oct. 8, 2013, with the first two years actively served and the remainder probated. The District 12 Grievance Committee found Trevino failed to keep client funds separate from his personal property, failed to promptly deliver funds, failed to ensure a non-lawyer staff member’s conduct was compatible with his professional obligations, and engaged in conduct involving misrepresentation. Notice of appeal received. Trevino violated Rules 1.14(a), 1.14(b), 1.14(c), 5.03(a), 5.03(b), and 8.04(a)(3) and was ordered to pay $91,667 in restitution and $3,477.60 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Sept. 13, 2013, Brian Anthony Hamner [#24041050], 37, of San Antonio, accepted an 18-month fully probated suspension effective Sept. 18, 2013. The District 10 Grievance Committee found Hamner neglected a client matter, failed to communicate with a client, and failed to refund the unearned portion of a legal fee.  Hamner violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), and 1.15(d) and was ordered to pay $2,050  in restitution and $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Aug. 21, 2013, Jennifer Lee Parks [#24056095], 32, of Fort Worth, received a five-year probated suspension effective Aug. 14, 2013. An evidentiary panel of the District 7 Grievance Committee found that Parks was hired to represent a client in a bankruptcy matter. Parks neglected the legal matter entrusted to her by failing to file the bankruptcy on her client’s behalf. Further, Parks failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from the client. Upon termination of the representation, Parks failed to refund advance payments of fees that had not been earned. Parks violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.15(d). She was ordered to pay $2,650 in restitution, $2,212.50 in attorneys’ fees, and $307.42 direct expenses.

On Sept. 11, 2013, Perry Don Cortese [#00790508], 50, of Little River Academy, received a three-month fully probated suspension effective Sept. 15, 2013. The 169th District Court of Bell County found that Cortese violated Rule 1.14(a) [requiring a lawyer to hold funds and other property belonging in whole or in part to clients or third persons that are in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property], Rule 1.15(d) [requiring a lawyer upon termination of representation to take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled, and refunding any advance payments of fee that has not been earned], and Rule 8.04(a)(1) [prohibiting lawyers from violating the disciplinary rules].  Cortese was ordered to pay $700 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

On Sept. 6, 2013, Rogelio Vargas [#00791848], 46, of San Antonio, accepted a four-year fully probated suspension effective Oct. 31, 2013. The District 10 Grievance Committee found Vargas neglected client matters, failed to keep clients reasonably informed, failed to return unearned fees, and failed to timely respond to grievances. Vargas violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), 1.03(b), 1.15(d), and 8.04(a)(8) and was ordered to pay $14,300 in restitution and $800 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Aug. 19, 2013, Stephen Mark Naslund [#14812600], 56, of Amarillo, received an 18-month active suspension effective Aug. 9, 2013. An evidentiary panel of the District 13 Grievance Committee found that Naslund failed to pay attorneys’ fees and costs as required under a Dec. 20, 2010, default judgment of partially probated suspension. Additionally, Naslund failed to complete five additional hours of continuing legal education in the area of ethics as required under the judgment. Finally, Naslund failed to furnish to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s office a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, or assert any grounds for his failure to do so. Naslund violated Rules 8.04(a)(7) and 8.04(a)(8). He was ordered to pay $1,000 in attorneys’ fees and $707.37 in direct expenses.

PUBLIC REPRIMANDS
On Aug. 30, 2013, Joy M. Thomas [#00798004], 48, of Fort Worth, accepted an agreed judgment of public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 7 Grievance Committee found that on Feb. 1, 2008, Thomas was hired by complainant to represent her father in a personal injury matter. In representing complainant’s father, Thomas neglected the legal matter entrusted to her by failing to completely and timely answer discovery, causing the case to be dismissed. In representing complainant’s father, Thomas frequently failed to carry out completely the obligations Thomas owed to complainant’s father. Thomas failed to keep complainant and her father reasonably informed about the status of the personal injury matter. Thomas failed to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information from complainant and her father about the personal injury matter. Thomas failed to explain the personal injury matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit complainant and her father to make informed decisions regarding the representation. Thomas violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.01(b)(2), 1.03(a), and 1.03(b). She was ordered to pay $1,373.91 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Sept. 11, 2013, Glen M. Crocker [#24001445], 43, of Beaumont, accepted an agreed judgment of public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 3 Grievance Committee found that Crocker neglected his client’s case and failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the case. Upon termination of the representation, Crocker failed to refund any of the unearned fees. Crocker violated Rules 1.01(b)(1), 1.03(a), and 1.15(d). Crocker was ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution and $1,125.26 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

On Sept. 11, 2013, Mark Anthony Davis [#24012509], 42, of Victoria, accepted a public reprimand. The District 11 Grievance Committee found Davis failed to refund unearned fees and failed to respond to the grievance. Davis violated Rules 1.15(d) and 8.04(a)(8).

On Sept. 6, 2013, Rene O. Oliveira [#15254700], 58, of Brownsville, accepted a public reprimand. An evidentiary panel of the District 12 Grievance Committee found Oliveira engaged in an ex parte communication with a judge without notice to and outside the presence of counsel for the opposing party. Oliveira violated Rule 3.05(b) and agreed to pay $1,500 in attorneys’ fees and direct expenses.

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November lawyer discipline – 2 from Houston, 14 other Texans

Embezzling client money leads to discipline for Tampa Bay lawyers

November 4, 2013

Misappropriating clients’ money has resulted in law license revocations for two area lawyers while four others were disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court for other misconduct.

The court granted Tampa lawyer David Anthony Fontes’ petition for disciplinary revocation of his license, which is tantamount to disbarment, according to a Florida Bar written statement. He may apply for readmission after five years.

Fontes was suspended last year and then arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for grand theft. He was accused of misappropriating more than $138,000 entrusted to him to pay the debts of a client’s estate.

Fontes subsequently reimbursed the client’s money.

The court also granted Scott V. Boruta’s petition for disciplinary revocation of his license. The Palm Harbor lawyer had two pending complaints of embezzling client funds and criminal theft.

Hillsborough County deputies investigated Boruta last year and arrested him for grand theft, records show.

A conflict of interest led to a four-month suspension for Sarasota lawyer Kenneth D. Doerr. In an estate case, he represented two clients in a matter in which they had adverse interests and wishes. He displayed “a lack of diligence and candor” by not disclosing to each client that he represented the other, according to the Bar statement.

Land O’Lakes lawyer Henry T. Sorenson II was suspended for three years. He failed to properly represent clients who wanted a trial court’s ruling appealed and failed to file the appeal notice. He also fabricated an appellate court opinion indicating the clients won the appeal.

Full Article and Source:
Embezzling client money leads to discipline for Tampa Bay lawyers

Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

October 23, 2013

PORTSMOUTH — Local attorney Richard Foley’s law license was suspended for six months by the Supreme Court’s Professional Conduct Committee, which placed the suspension in abeyance for a year, providing Foley adheres to a list of conditions.
 
According to PCC records, the suspension of Foley’s law license is related to his mishandling of funds he received from a client he was representing in a divorce case between 2009 and 2012. During the pendency of that case, Foley commingled his client’s funds with his own, failed to keep his client “reasonably informed,” spent his client’s money before earning it, and falsely reported that he was in compliance with financial rules, according to the PCC order.
 
Further, the PCC reports, Foley failed to perform “monthly reconciliations of any of his client trust accounts” between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2012.
 
“Mr. Foley’s breaches were fundamental, evincing a lack of understanding of even the basics of law office accounting procedures,” the PCC order states.
 
“There was no written fee agreement with the complainant regarding his representation in the matter; only an oral agreement to represent her at $200 per hour,” according to the PCC. “At no time during the pendency of the divorce proceedings did Mr. Foley provide the complainant with an accounting of his time spent on her matter. The initial retainer check was not deposited into Mr. Foley’s client trust account.”
 
Foley also told his client that his fees for an appeal of the divorce case would be a flat fee and not hours-based, and never communicated the actual amount of the flat fee, the PCC found.
 
According to the PCC order, Foley agreed to pay all costs associated with an investigation into the matter, as well as to provide all future clients with written fee agreements, to track time spent on clients’ cases, and to complete 6 hours of training “regarding how to properly handle his client trust account.”
 
Foley is also ordered to hire a certified public accountant and for a year and to provide the Attorney Discipline Office with monthly client trust account reconciliations.

Full Article and Source:
Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

Bar: Lawyer took $500K from dead clients

October 14, 2013

A La Jolla attorney is facing discipline from the State Bar of California after he allegedly took more than $500,000 from his deceased clients’ estate without the court’s permission, which prompted at least one beneficiary — the American Cancer Society — to sue him.
 
The State Bar claims that James McGowan, 76, paid himself nearly $515,000 from the trust of his client, Henry Thackwell, who died in April 2001, and the estate of Thackwell’s wife, Hildegard Thackwell, who died six months later. According to the bar complaint, McGowan said the money was compensation for legal services rendered, but he has not provided an accounting of the legal work he did on behalf of the trust and estate.

The payments occurred over a span of nine years, according to the bar, which licenses lawyers and regulates their conduct under the auspices of the state Supreme Court. The bar has issued three charges against McGowan, which will be heard by the State Bar Court.
 
State law requires that probate attorneys receive court approval before being paid out of estate funds, which the bar says did not occur with these funds.

Full Article and Source:
Bar: Lawyer took $500K from dead clients

Westmoreland native, former congressman Bailey banned from law for 5 years

October 7, 2013

Attorney Don Bailey leaves the courtroom
 in December 2012 after a
state committee held a hearing 
on disciplinary action against him. 
(Matt Miller, The Patriot-News)
The state Supreme Court has ordered Greensburg native Don Bailey, a former Pennsylvania auditor general and U.S. congressman, to surrender his law license for five years.
 
The court on Wednesday ordered the suspension that was recommended in May by its Disciplinary Board.
 
Bailey violated the rules of professional conduct by making false statements critical of federal judges in Pennsylvania, the court said.
 
Although the Supreme Court ruling came in a three-sentence order, the Disciplinary Board’s 19-page recommendation attached to the order sharply criticized Bailey, who lives in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.
 
“(Bailey) fails to accept adverse judicial decisions by an objective review of the facts or the law. He simply concludes that such decisions are a result of a conspiracy against him or his clients,” the disciplinary board said.
 
“(Bailey) has not expressed regret or remorse for any statements that he made,” the board noted.
In a separate 2009 case, Bailey, who practiced in Harrisburg, was ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in fees and costs for making unfounded claims of judicial misconduct.
 
Bailey, 68, served as auditor general from 1985 to 1989. He served as congressman from 1979 until 1983, representing a Western Pennsylvania district eliminated in redistricting.

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Westmoreland native, former congressman Bailey banned from law for 5 years

C.A. Upholds Dismissal of Suit Against State Bar, but Throws Out Fee Award on Jurisdictional Grounds

August 23, 2013

The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday threw out an order requiring a local attorney who sued the State Bar to pay attorney fees.
 
The suit by Patricia Barry was properly dismissed, Justice Victoria Chavez wrote, because it challenged a disciplinary stipulation, and lawyer discipline is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. But because the trial court lacked jurisdiction, Chavez explained, it could not award attorney fees under the anti-SLAPP statute.
 
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deirdre Hill awarded the fees after concluding that the State Bar’s pursuit of lawyer discipline is protected activity for purposes of the statute, and that Barry failed to state a prima facie claim. One of the reasons for the latter holding was that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over State Bar disciplinary matters.
 
Hill was correct on that point, Chavez said. But because the trial court lacked jurisdiction, its award of more than $2,500 in fees must be reversed, she said. 
 
Because the trial court’s ruling came on an anti-SLAPP motion, and not on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, Brown v. Desert Christian Center (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 733 does not apply, Chavez reasoned. Brown held that the trial judge, having dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after having determined that the matter came within the exclusive jurisdiction of the workers’ compensation system, could award costs.
 
That award, the appellate court held, was incidental to the court’s exercise of its “jurisdiction to determine its own jurisdiction.”
 
The stipulation that Barry, 70, sought to overturn was entered into in 2011. According to State Bar records, the attorney was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and ordered to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.
 
The State Bar summarized the case on its website as follows;
 
“Barry stipulated that she pursued cases without merit. She filed a series of lawsuits on behalf of a client that included charges of taking a child from her parents, conspiracy and making a false claim of child abuse and neglect. Barry appealed after most of the claims were dismissed (including an appeal to the Supreme Court). Granting a request by the other side for attorney’s fees after Barry’s petitions were denied, one court called her actions “groundless and vexatious” and said the case ‘was unreasonable, frivolous, meritless.’

Full Article and Source:
C.A. Upholds Dismissal of Suit Against State Bar, but Throws Out Fee Award on Jurisdictional Grounds

State bar judge recommends 2-year suspension for lawyer

July 17, 2013
 
OAKLAND, Calif. — A state Bar Court judge has recommended that an attorney who represented former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV be suspended from practicing law for two years for smuggling from jail an alleged hit list of witnesses in Bey’s murder case.
 
Judge Pat McElroy said in her 16-page ruling that Lorna Brown’s “misconduct significantly harmed the administration of justice” because “witnesses were understandably frightened and one requested and received witness protection protocols.”

But McElroy said she doesn’t recommend that Brown, 67, should be permanently disbarred because she has no prior record of discipline in 22 years of practicing law and eventually admitted what she did and expressed remorse.

Brown’s recognition of wrongdoing “assures the court that her misconduct is unlikely to reoccur,” McElroy said.

Brown’s attorney, Vicky Young, asked for a six-month suspension for Brown at the end of a three-day hearing on the matter in April but State Bar prosecutor Robin Brune asked for her to be disbarred.

It will be up to the California Supreme Court to finalize McElroy’s recommendation.

Full Article and Source:
State bar judge recommends 2-year suspension for lawyer

D.C. lawyer gets harsher penalty for lying in discipline hearings

July 16, 2013

A lawyer who convinced a District of Columbia bar discipline hearing committee that she was truthful about events from several years earlier had less credibility in a subsequent hearing by the Board on Professional Responsibility and ultimately, on Thursday, when the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the Board.

Stephanie Y. Bradley’s “intentional falsehood” turned out to be an aggravating factor for the board’s decision, upheld by the appeals court (PDF), to suspend her from the practice of law for two years.

The initial hearing committee, though believing Bradley’s explanation on some key points, had found her ethical lapses sufficient to recommend 90 days. She had previously received three formal admonitions.

The suspension concerned Bradley’s failures as a court-appointed guardian for two persons. From 1999 until 2004, she represented the interests of a man with developmental disabilities who was hospitalized with head trauma, until she could have him moved to a nursing home; and from 1999 until 2004, she represented the interests of an elderly and infirm woman.

Though claiming she regularly visited the man at the nursing home, Bradley was shown to have largely ignored him for nine years, having filed only three of the required semi-annual reports with the superior court and ignoring calls and letters from the man’s family in Texas, who wanted to move him closer to them. In 2004, the family got another lawyer to initiate the move and filed a bar complaint against Bradley.

While guardian for the woman, Bradley failed to prevent a purported family friend and caretaker from embezzling between $200,000 and $250,000 from her bank account and failed to file for a payout from a life insurance policy and for a civil-service lump sum benefit due the woman.
In 2003, another lawyer represented the woman in removing Bradley from her care, then sued Bradley and recovered more than $400,000.

Full Article and Source:
D.C. lawyer gets harsher penalty for lying in discipline hearings

Attorney discipline: 14 attorneys in South Florida spanked

June 29, 2013

One attorney tried to give a judge a bottle of wine. Another is accused of stealing money from client trust funds. A third attorney lost her driver’s license and was suspended after a felony DUI.

Overall, 14 lawyers in South Florida faced discipline by the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders from April and May.

Bankruptcy attorney Kevin Gleason already apologized publicly for criticizing U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Olson and for trying to smooth it over by sending a bottle of wine to Olson’s office. Now he will be publicly reprimanded following a May 15 order from the Florida Supreme Court.

West Palm Beach attorney James Herbert Rainey was suspended on an emergency petition accusing him of raiding client trust funds. Rainey’s attoney, Kevin Tynan, said his client denies the allegation and is defending himself.

What happened to the clients’ funds? Tynan said he wasn’t prepared answer that question from a newspaper reporter, but he would be filing motions soon outlining Rainey’s defense.

Two South Florida attorneys were permanently disbarred. Another two faced normal disbarment, which means they can reapply for a law license under certain conditions in five years.

Statewide, the court disciplined 23 attorneys, disbarring six, suspending 12 and publicly reprimanding five.

A news release from the Florida Bar provided the following summaries of additional South Florida discipline cases:

John Patrick Clement, North Palm Beach, permanently disbarred on a May 3 order. Clement was found in contempt for non-compliance with the terms of a December 2011 disbarment order. Clement failed to respond to correspondence from the Bar and failed to appear at final hearings on Jan. 12, 2012 and Feb. 10, 2012. (Case No. SC11-1458)

Rene Navarro, Miami, permanently disbarred on a May 15 order. Navarro was found in contempt for violating the terms of his January 2008 disbarment order. Navarro engaged in the practice of law, despite being disbarred. (SC12-1561)

Robert W. Frazier Jr., Fort Lauderdale, disbarred retroactive to April 1, 2011, following a May 2 order. Frazier intentionally and actively assisted a client in cashing a check that did not belong to either of them. He then turned the proceeds over to the client. (Case No. SC11-819)

Mark David Tucker, Miami, disbarred effective 30 days from an April 30 order. Tucker was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a November 2010 suspension order that also placed him on probation for three years. Tucker failed to pay $72,950 to a former client within the three-year probationary period as required. (Case No. SC12-952)

Rita Rosato Pitassi, Delray Beach, suspended for three years on a May 15 order. Pitassi was adjudicated guilty in court of one count of felony driving under the influence, for the third time in 10 years. Pitassi was sentenced to 150 days incarceration and five years probation. She was also released to a drug and alcohol treatment facility for 120 days of inpatient treatment and random drug testing during probation; her driver’s license was permanently revoked. (SC12-1892)

Ronald George Baker, Coral Gables, suspended for 91 days, effective July 14, on a May 15 order. Baker had a long-time business relationship with a client. A restatement of a trust provided that Baker, who prepared documents at the instruction of the client, would receive $250,000 as a beneficiary. Upon the death of the client, Baker disbursed the funds to himself and also collected $110,000 for serving as trustee, personal representative and attorney. Baker violated Bar rules involving conflict of interest. His acceptance of a substantial gift from a client was inappropriate and also violated Bar rules. (Case No. SC12-2725)

Libio Calejo, Doral, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a May 15 order. Calejo represented approximately 20 debtors in federal bankruptcy court. Many of the petitions and schedules he filed contained inaccuracies, leading to amendments that also contained inaccuracies and resulted in unreasonable delays. Calejo’s failure to appear at a number of scheduled creditors’ meetings resulted in the dismissal of most of the bankruptcy cases. Calejo also failed to adequately communicate with clients, often leaving that responsibility to his non-lawyer personnel. (Case No. SC12-2729)

Kathleen M. P. Davis, Greenacres, suspended, effective 30 days from a May 30 order, until she fully responds in writing to Bar inquiries and until further order. Davis was found in contempt for failing to respond to multiple official Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC12-802)

Eric Richard Hospedales, Miramar, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a May 15 order. During an investigation into a Bar complaint, Hospedales provided misleading and incomplete information to the Bar and its agents. In statements to a grievance committee member, Hospedales contradicted an earlier written statement. He also failed to reveal pertinent information. (Case No. SC12-912)

Jeffrey Allen McCann, Palm Beach Gardens, suspended for one year, effective immediately on a May 15 order. McCann was found in contempt for violating the terms of his April 2012 suspension order. Specifically, McCann was required to submit to The Florida Bar, a sworn affidavit listing the persons/entities to which he gave notice of his suspension and provided a copy of his suspension order. (Case No. SC12-1279)

Julio R. Ferrer Roo, Miami, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a May 15 order. Roo was found in contempt for violating the terms of his April 2012 suspension order. Specifically, Roo was required to submit to The Florida Bar a sworn affidavit listing the persons/entities to which he gave notice of his suspension and provided a copy of his suspension order. (Case No. SC12-2137)

Laurie Schrier, Boynton Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an April 12 order. Schrier failed to respond to multiple Bar inquiries regarding a complaint. (Case No. SC12-2164)

Elsewhere in Florida:

Jessica Ann Bennett, Riverview, permanently disbarred on a May 15 order. (Case No. SC12-1305)

Jennifer Aycock Bonifield, Brandon, disbarred on a May 15 order.

Chris Eugene Cadenhead, Crestview, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a May 7 order. (Case No. SC13-753)

Gayle Patricia Ellsworth, Warwick, R.I., suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a May 23 order. (Case No. SC13-900)

Stewart Lawrence Jacobson, Clermont, to be publicly reprimanded following a May 15 order. (Case No. SC12-1941)

Stephen Gilman Kolody, Fort Myers, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a May 15 order. (Case Nos. SC11-721 & SC12-1420)

Miquell Mack, Ocala, to be publicly reprimanded, following a May 15 order. (Case No. SC12-2726)

Eduardo Julio Mejias, Altamonte Springs, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for six months, on a May 15 order. (Case No. SC12-882)

Charles Edward Pellicer, Saint Augustine, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for two years, following a May 15 order. (Case No. SC12-1190)

Discipline orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, less than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.

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Attorney discipline: 14 attorneys in South Florida spanked