Karen Y. Kirksey reported to Historic City News that in recent court orders through April 12, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 16 attorneys — disbarring three, suspending ten and issuing public reprimands to three.
As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar is charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 90,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.
Through its Department of Lawyer Regulation, The Florida Bar serves as the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession.
Henry Nissim Adorno, c/o Yoss LLP, 2525 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 400, Miami, suspended for three years, effective retroactive to Oct. 28, 2010, following an April 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) While representing plaintiffs in a class action, Adorno breached his fiduciary duty to the class by settling on behalf of the named plaintiffs only, to the detriment of the class. Adorno also took an excessive attorney fee. (Case No. SC09-1012)
Jon William Agee, P.O. Box 7358, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 90 days, effective April 29, following a March 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1966) He is further directed to complete ethics school. Agee prepared a last will and testament for a long-time friend and client who insisted on making bequests to the attorney and his wife. (Case No. SC11-307)
Richard Lawrence Brown, 4440 P.G.A. Blvd., Suite 600, Palm Beach Gardens, suspended until further order, following an April 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Brown appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client funds. An audit revealed that Brown converted at least $21,850 from his trust account and used it for personal and business purposes. (Case No. SC11-651)
Peter James Cannon, 3837 Northdale Blvd., Suite 367, Tampa, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a March 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Cannon was found in contempt for repeated failure to respond to official Bar inquiries and failure to show good cause for non-compliance. (Case No. SC11-130)
Theodore Ross Dempster, 801 Brickell Ave., Ph-1, Miami, disbarred for seven years, effective immediately, following a March 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) An audit revealed that Dempster misappropriated client funds to satisfy personal and business obligations, in a manner similar to a Ponzi scheme. Dempster has been found guilty of violations including: misrepresentation, and engaging in dishonest, fraudulent and deceitful conduct. The auditor found numerous trust account violations and a failure to produce all the required bank records requested in the Bar’s subpoena. (Case No. SC10-1829)
Ryan Patrick Dugan, 12760 Stone Tower Loop, Fort Myers, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a March 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Dugan is further directed to complete ethics school. In representing several clients, Dugan failed to provide competent representation. In many instances, after being retained, he failed to communicate. He also failed to disclose to some clients about possible conflicts of interest. (Case Nos. SC10-1434 & SC10-1827)
Kelly Marion Fitzgerald, 1324 Seven Springs Blvd., Suite 165, New Port Richey, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a March 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Fitzgerald was retained to represent a client in a wrongful termination matter. She stopped working on the case and stopped communicating with the client. Fitzgerald also failed to respond to the Bar’s correspondence regarding the grievance. Since October 2009, she has been ineligible to practice law due to her delinquent status for failure to pay Bar membership fees. (Case No. SC10-1222)
David Eric Hammer, 1005 N. Marion Street, Tampa, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, following a March 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) In August 2010, Hammer was suspended on an emergency basis. He then failed to comply with the requirement to immediately furnish a copy of the suspension order to all clients, opposing counsel, and courts and to certify his compliance with the court. The matter was also referred to a referee for resolution of the contempt issues. (Case No. SC10-1970)
Michael J. Hernandez, 1625 Paramount Blvd., Montebello, Calif., suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a March 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) After being suspended for 10 days in January 2010, Hernandez failed to comply with the terms of the Court’s order. He was required to submit a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his suspension. (Case No. SC10-2225)
Clint Johnson, 250 N. Orange Ave., Suite 550, Orlando, suspended until further order, following an April 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) According to an emergency suspension order, Johnson appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating trust funds for personal use. (Case No. SC11-622)
R. Patrick Mirk, P.O. Box 18201, Tampa, disbarred following an April 7 court order. Mirk misappropriated more than $31,000 in client funds held in his trust account. (Case No. SC08-1423)
Maurice Andrew Mooney, 3639 Cortez Road W., Suite 111, Bradenton, publicly reprimanded following an April 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Mooney was the subject of two disciplinary proceedings to which he pleaded guilty. In one instance, Mooney was paid a $2,300 retainer to file a bankruptcy petition. He failed to file the petition and failed to communicate with the client for several months. In another case, Mooney was hired to represent a client in a mortgage loan modification/pre-foreclosure matter. He failed to keep the client informed regarding the status of the case. The client subsequently obtained new counsel. (Case Nos. SC10-1825 & SC10-2397)
James Edward Moore III, 33431 Washington Loop Road, Punta Gorda, publicly reprimanded following a March 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1969) Moore failed to detect that an employee had embezzled approximately $2 million from the firm’s bank accounts over a period of approximately five years, which resulted in a loss of client trust funds. As a result, Moore failed to deliver trust funds upon demand made by certain clients. (Case No. SC10-1826)
Christopher Rumsey Qualmann, P.O. Box 940669, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 16, 2010 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) In September 2008, Qualmann was suspended and unable to practice law in Florida. Qualmann practiced law while suspended and he failed to inform the court or a client. He also failed to file any quarterly reports with the bar regarding his newly found employment, and failed to provide a written response about a matter after numerous inquiries from the Bar. (Case No. SC10-1929)
Herman Thomas, 2200 Rue de La Flore St., Mobile, Ala., suspended until further order, following a March 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) According to a petition for emergency suspension order, Thomas appeared to be causing great public harm, based on an order of disbarment from the Supreme Court of Alabama. (Case No. SC11-429)
Geri Lynn Hallerman Waksler, 18401 Murdock Circle, Unit C, Port Charlotte, publicly reprimanded following a March 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Waksler failed to detect that an employee had embezzled approximately $2 million from the firm’s bank accounts over a period of approximately five years, which resulted in a loss of client trust funds. As a result, Waksler failed to deliver trust funds upon demand made by certain clients. (Case No. SC10-1824)
Court 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, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.