The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced to Historic City News today that a former Jacksonville Circuit Court judge, Mark Hulsey III, who was accused last year of both racism and sexism, is being publicly reprimanded and ordered to complete a professionalism workshop for additional violations of Florida’s election laws.
The 2017 ethics charges alleged Judge Hulsey said blacks should “get back on a ship and go back to Africa” and that he referred to one staff attorney as a “bitch” and a “cunt”, and demeaned other female staff attorneys by saying they are like “cheerleaders who talk during the national anthem”. Hulsey denied those allegations. He was re-elected to the bench.
The 2018 charges alleged that while a sitting judge, Hulsey failed to ensure that his campaign ads were approved by the endorser in writing, in compliance with state election laws. The Bar found that he also utilized his judicial assistant to perform personal tasks to the extent that it interfered with her ability to perform her duties, and, he used the Fourth Judicial Circuit’s business account for personal items.
Hulsey was one of 26 attorneys recently disciplined by The Florida Supreme Court who acted by disbarring five, revoking the licenses of two, suspending 11, publicly reprimanding seven, and placing one on probation. Three attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Two were ordered to pay restitution; another was also placed on probation.
Summaries of orders issued July 5 – August 23, 2018
Mark Hulsey III, 7812 Hunters Grove Road, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Further, Hulsey shall complete a professionalism workshop. (Case No. SC18- 1243)
Brett Hartley, 533 Seabreeze Boulevard, Suite 300, Daytona Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an August 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Hartley was found in contempt for noncompliance. The Florida Bar served Hartley with a subpoena requiring him to produce his attorney trust account records for audit. Even after being granted an extension of time to provide the records, Hartley failed to comply. (Case No. SC18-781)
Francis Wesley Blankner, Jr., 217 N.E. Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from an August 16 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 1977) Further, upon reinstatement, Blankner is placed on probation for nine months. In two separate post-conviction matters, Blankner failed to provide his clients with competent and diligent representation. He also failed to adequately communicate regarding their criminal matters. Blankner agreed to a stipulation with the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division for failing to pay his personal income taxes. (Case No. SC18-1239)
John Andrew Braithwaite, 390 N. Orange Ave., Suite 2300, Orlando, to be publicly reprimanded effective immediately, following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Braithwaite had an agreement for legal services with a private investigation firm to file claims assigned to the investigation firm for surplus funds held in court registries. The investigation firm directly contacted potential clients to become the assignee of their claims to recover surplus funds from the courts and charged as much as 15 percent of the surplus funds recovered for compensation in violation of Florida Statutes. If a potential client requested an attorney recommendation, the firm would refer the client to Braithwaite. (Case No. SC18-1290)
Michael Peter Guido, 4430 Bridgewater Drive, Orlando, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) As trustee and attorney for an irrevocable life insurance trust, Guido took no significant action and completed no meaningful legal work. Over a nine-month period, he wrote checks to himself totaling approximately $39,000 for fees and administrative costs. Guido did not resign as trustee, even after repeated requests
Steven Paul Burch, 126 E. Olympia Ave., Suite 404, Punta Gorda, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a July 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Burch appeared to be causing great public harm by abandoning his law practice without notifying his clients and without taking reasonable steps to protect their interests. (Case No. SC18-1151)
James Casimir Casey, 2701 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 200, Coral Gables, suspended for 20 days, effective 30 days from an August 23 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 1985) Casey’s failure to respond to a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint by the deadline resulted in the court entering a final order of dismissal. Casey also failed to communicate with his client and failed to return his client’s files after repeated requests. (Case No. SC18-1265)
Peter Van Dorn Fullerton, 3640 Galileo Drive, Fort Collins, Colo., suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a July 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Fullerton was hired in April 2008 to represent clients concerning their investment loss in a real estate venture. The case was subsequently dismissed for lack of prosecution and the court entered a final judgment against all the plaintiffs. In December 2017, Fullerton admitted to the court that he did not prosecute the case for the benefit of his clients and he failed to keep them informed. (Case No. SC18-551)
Rene Julian Garcia Jr., 5975 Sunset Drive, Suite 604, South Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following an August 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Further, Garcia shall pay restitution of more than $148,000 to an estate. Garcia misappropriated client trust funds. He also failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings before the referee. (Case No: SC18-224)
Juliana Gonzalez, 3126 Center St., Coconut Grove, to be publicly reprimanded following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Further, Gonzalez shall be placed on probation for two years, effective immediately. Gonzalez was negligent in managing her law firm’s trust account, following dismissal of the bookkeeper. (Case No. SC18-1271)
Salina Jivani, 675 Harbor Drive, Floor 2, Key Biscayne, to be publicly reprimanded following an August 2 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 2007) Jivani directly communicated with individuals represented by counsel, outside of their counsel’s presence. (Case No. SC17-1462)
Gregg S. Kamp, P.O. Box 6235, Lakeland, placed on probation for six months, following an August 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) In two separate cases, Kamp failed to diligently pursue clients’ legal matters or maintain adequate communications with them. As part of his probation, Kamp will participate in the Diversion/Discipline Consultation Service, a practice and professional enhancement program. (Case No. SC18-317)
Jean Laws-Scott, 2199 N.E. Ginger Terrace, Jensen Beach. The court granted Laws-Scott’s petition for disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days from an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Laws-Scott involved failure to maintain her trust account in substantial minimum compliance with Bar rules, resulting in trust account shortages. (Case No. SC18-1023)
Madsen Marcellus, Jr., 16921 N.E. 6th Ave., North Miami Beach, suspended for 18 months, following a July 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In the context of his divorce case, Marcellus engaged in a pattern of deliberately disobeying and disregarding orders of the family court. He also failed to pay his mortgage and the bank filed to suit to foreclose on his home. Marcellus subsequently submitted a mortgage modification application with a forged signature, that he personally witnessed. (Case No. SC16-1773)
Liana Martinez, 11077 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 209, North Miami, suspended for 60 days and placed on probation for three years, effective 30 days from an August 23, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Martinez was negligent in managing her trust account and supervising a nonlawyer employee. As a result, proper trust account records were not maintained. (Case No. SC18-1269)
Larry Joseph McGuinness, 3126 Center St., Coconut Grove, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from an August 23 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 1989) Further, McGuinness shall pay restitution of $10,000 to a client. McGuinness failed to communicate adequately with his client and he failed to obtain the client’s permission before he sold her allegedly uncollectible judgment to a third party. (Case No. SC18-1276)
Joseph Pallante III, P.O. Box 412114, Melbourne, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Pallante was found guilty in court of 42 counts of sexual battery on a child younger than 12-years-old, and other sexual battery offenses regarding children. He was sentenced to life in prison. (Case No. SC17-2191)
Donovan Lloyd Parker, P.O. Box 245336, Pembroke Pines, to be publicly reprimanded following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 2002) Parker was hired to handle an eviction matter. Although he did take some action, he failed to appear at a mediation, and did not take meaningful steps to reset the mediation or otherwise solve the issue. The eviction case was dismissed because of his failure to appear at the mediation. (SC18-1257)
Oscar Santiago Rodriguez, 19 W. Flagler St., Suite 407, Coral Gables, to be publicly reprimanded following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) Rodriguez charged his client a nonrefundable fee without confirming it in writing and explaining the nature and amount. Eventually, the disbursements exceeded the balance of funds deposited by Rodriguez. (Case No. SC18-1256)
Lee Robert Rohe, P.O. Box 430678, Big Pine Key, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from an August 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Rohe served subpoenas for depositions on two out-of-state witnesses without complying with applicable statutes. Although there was no compulsion for the witnesses to attend, the subpoenas misrepresented that failure to appear could result in contempt of court. (Case No. SC17-787)
Norman S. Segall, 1 S.E. 3rd Ave., Suite 1400, Coral Gables, to be publicly reprimanded following an August 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Segall commingled funds by creating a subaccount in his firm’s trust account into which he deposited personal funds and made disbursements for a personal matter. A separate fee award in his trust account offset any negative balances. (Case No. SC18-1254)
Marquista Alexandria Shipman, 2001 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 212, Hollywood, disbarred effective immediately, following an August 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Shipman accepted a fee to represent clients and foreclose on several properties. She did little or no work on the cases. Shipman did not respond to the complaints, nor did she participate in The Florida Bar’s case against her. (Case No. SC18-40)
D. Jay Snyder, 204 37th Ave. N., #405, St. Petersburg. The court granted Snyder’s petition for disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission, effective 30 days from an August 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Snyder included the alleged withdrawal of $1.5 million in advance fees without the client’s authorization. (Case No: SC18-987)
Mark P. Stopa, 447 3rd Ave. N., Suite 405, St. Petersburg, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a July 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Stopa appeared to be causing great public harm by settling cases without the consent of clients, filing frivolous motions, and providing misleading information. (Case No. SC18-1197)
Rafael Ubieta, 175 S.W. 7th St., Suite 2007, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following a July 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Ubieta was charged in federal court with five counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was sentenced to 240 months in prison for each count to be served concurrently, and three years of supervised release upon completing the sentence. (Case No. SC13-395)
As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 105,935 members of The Florida Bar.
Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Additional information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.
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 five percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.