The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced to Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court in orders issued between September 22 – November 2, 2017, disciplined 20 attorneys – disbarring four, revoking the licenses of three, suspending 10 and publicly reprimanding three. Two attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One was also placed on probation; another was ordered to pay restitution.
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, less than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
Robert Charles Grady, 6243 Autumn Berry Circle, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded by publication, following a Sept. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Further, Grady shall be placed on probation for two years and sign a monitoring contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance. Grady entered a plea in court, he was adjudicated guilty of DUI, and his driver’s license was permanently revoked. Subsequently, he was adjudicated guilty in a separate case for similar charges, including DUI, resisting without violence, refusal to submit to blood/breath testing, and driving while license suspended. He failed to timely notify The Florida Bar that a determination or judgment of guilt had been entered. (Case No. SC17-275)
Robert Augustus Harper, III, 1725 Capital Circle N.E., Suite 304, Tallahassee, to be publicly reprimanded by publication, following an Oct. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) After beginning fee negotiations for representation, Harper led a woman to believe that she was being actively investigated by the state attorney’s office. She borrowed the agreed upon $10,000, and hired him. She later learned that no police report was ever made and the no criminal charges were ever filed. In another matter, after entering a notice of appearance in a dissolution of marriage case in Okaloosa County, Harper then filed an emergency motion for child pick up in Leon County and failed to advise the court of the pending action in Okaloosa County. (Case No. SC17-404)
Stephanie J. Hartley, 1361 Nicholson Road, Jacksonville, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from an Oct. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) After being taken into custody for belligerent behavior, Hartley pleaded no contest in court to breach of peace/disorderly conduct. According to Bar records, it is the third negative police interaction Hartley has had involving alcohol. In two prior incidents, she was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence or intoxicated. (Case No. SC17-1351)
Michael Kevin Rathel, 545 Delaney Ave., Suite 4, Orlando, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Rathel was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a March 23 and June 12 suspension orders. He was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension, and provide the Bar within 30 days a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of the suspension orders. (Case No. SC17-1590)
Victor Felix Rodriguez, 390 N. Orange Ave., Suite 2300, Orlando. The court granted Rodriguez’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following an Oct. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters included misappropriation of funds from clients as well as his former employer, and failure to maintain trust account compliance. (Case No. SC17-1554)