The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced to local Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court recently ordered 15 attorneys to be disciplined, disbarring five and suspending 10. One attorney was also ordered to pay restitution. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation.
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 more than 107,000 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. 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 includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam.
Barrett Paul Burnette, 123 Wisteria Drive, Longwood, disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) On Aug. 1, the Ninth Circuit Court accepted Burnette’s plea of nolo contendere for two third-degree felonies and two misdemeanors related to throwing a flagpole into a residence and damaging a truck and a car. In a related case, Burnette was adjudicated guilty of Aggravated Stalking With Credible Threat, a third-degree felony, and Battery, a first-degree misdemeanor. For both crimes, Burnette was sentenced to two years of community control and two years’ probation. (Case No. SC19-1459)
Stephanie Brunner, 1342 Colonial Blvd., Suite C20, Fort Myers, disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Brunner entered into a Disbarment on Consent, based upon allegations that she misappropriated at least $21,332.54 of client funds from her trust account. Brunner has since deposited funds into her trust account to cover the shortages and satisfy all outstanding claims. (Case No. SC19-503)
Robert Arthur Carr, 11313 Knights Griffin Road, Thonotosassa, disbarred and held in Contempt of Court effective 30 days from a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Carr failed to file a response to the Order to Show Cause issued by the Supreme Court in response to the Bar’s Petition for Contempt alleging that following his suspension he failed to provide the Bar with his affidavit, failed to respond to the Bar’s letters, and failed to furnish a copy of the suspension order to his clients, opposing counsels, co-counsels, and to all courts, tribunals, or adjudicative agencies. Carr also practiced law during his suspension. (Case No. SC19-937)
Ryan Campbell, 428 Ruckel Drive, Niceville, disbarred and ordered to pay restitution effective immediately following a Dec. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Campbell was arrested on five criminal charges after which he entered into a pretrial intervention agreement on four of the charges and was put on probation for 18 months. On the three remaining counts, Campbell failed to diligently pursue two family law matters and one criminal case. In addition, he failed to communicate with clients, to appear at hearings, to comply with discovery requests and to respond to The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC19-1421)
Stephan Wooding Carter, 2153 Chinook Trail, Maitland, suspended for one year effective 30 days following a Dec. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) Carter was employed as general counsel for the Clerk of Court in Orange County. After the clerk died, an Interim Clerk of Court was appointed. Based upon Carter’s legal advice, the Interim Clerk terminated both hers and Carter’s existing employment agreements. They both received severance payments; however, they both remained employed. Carter and the Interim Clerk repaid the full amount of their severance payments. (Case No. SC19-1353)
Laura Healan Coggin, 76347 Veterans Way, Yulee, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days following a Dec. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Coggin was hired to represent her client’s husband in a criminal matter quoting a total fee of $15,000 if the case went to trial and said that she’d bring in co-counsel at no extra cost. The client ended up paying co-counsel $2,500 and an additional $12,100 without going to trial. A year later Coggin asked for and received an additional $7,500 followed by $2,500. Three months later the court informed the client’s husband that Coggin would no longer be able to represent him. By this point, the client had paid Coggin $27,850 (including the payment to co-counsel). Before Coggin withdrew, she did complete various tasks for his case. However, the client alleged that Coggin stopped meeting with them and that her work devolved into only filing continuances. After her withdrawal, Coggin refunded a total of $18,500 to the complainant. (Case No. SC19-1668)
Desmond Patrick FitzGerald, 185 Devonshire St., Suite 601, Boston, Mass., suspended for 90 days effective immediately following a Dec. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) After a criminal case in which his client was sentenced to 22 years in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, FitzGerald filed multiple frivolous Motions for a New Trial, which were all summarily denied. Despite the client’s request, FitzGerald failed to file a Notice of Appeal after the second Motion for a New Trial was denied. (Case No. SC19-1224)
Justin Scott Gaines, P.O. Box 1735, Highland City, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Nov. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Gaines was found in contempt for noncompliance of the court’s Dec. 20, 2018 order. Gaines failed to comply in part with his terms and conditions of probation; specifically, he failed to complete his Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. evaluation and after a finding of probable cause for misconduct which occurred during his probation. (Case No. SC19-1344)
Gino Louis Giorgini III, 40 Verazzano Ave., Copiague, New York, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Dec. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Giorgini represented a plaintiff in a civil case where he filed pleadings that contained accusations of misconduct and bias by the presiding judges. He also made veiled threats of filing disciplinary actions against the judges. The New York Supreme Court held that the comments made by Giorgini against members of the judiciary “went beyond the bounds of zealous advocacy and were derogatory, undignified and inexcusable.” This is a reciprocal discipline action based on the New York Order and Opinion.
Charles Alexander Greene Jr., 16350 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Unit 46279, Tampa, suspended for 60 days with probation for one year upon reinstatement and directed to attend The Florida Bar’s ethics school effective 30 days from Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Greene hired Robert Sanchez, a nonlawyer, as an independent contractor paralegal at his law firm who would refer clients to Greene and draft paperwork without reasonable supervision from Greene. Greene also represented Sanchez in at least nine legal matters of varying nature from approximately 2009 to 2016 and would subtract monies owed from the legal representation from his payment for services rendered. Throughout four years of representation, Greene failed to consistently communicate about the case. In a separate count, Greene who was appointed by the court to represent a client in a criminal matter filed a late appeal, which was dismissed with an appellate court later affirming the decision. (Case No. SC18-1105)
Erica Helene Kobloth, 5613 Pacific Blvd., Apt. 3307, Boca Raton, suspended effective 30 days from Dec. 13, 2019 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) After Kobloth failed to file a response to an order to show cause, the court held her in contempt and suspended her until she fully responds in writing to official Bar inquiries. The suspension remains until further order of the court. (Case No: SC19-1707)
Amanda C. Leary, P.O. Box 222, Palatka, suspended and held in contempt of court until further order of the court, effective 30 days from a Dec. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Upon receiving several grievances concerning Leary’s alleged acts of professional misconduct, The Florida Bar sent Leary correspondence requiring her to respond in writing. Leary failed to respond to the Bar’s investigative inquiries. (Case No. SC19-1730)
Beverly R. McCallum, 5745 S.W. 75th St., No. 194, Gainesville, suspended for 15 days effective 30 days from a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In a series of letters, McCallum wrote to the chief judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and general counsel and impugned the integrity of two sitting Fifth Judicial Circuit Court judges. Video recordings of the court proceedings referenced by McCallum did not support her accusations against the judges. (Case No. SC18-604)
Scott Charles Maddox, P.O. Box 10768, Tallahassee, disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Maddox was indicted on 44 criminal counts including wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government. He pleaded guilty and was adjudicated guilty to the three charges cited. (Case No. SC19-1373)
Donald Linus McBath, Jr., 12231 Main St., Unit 671, San Antonio, suspended for 91 days effective immediately following a Nov. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) McBath, as a judicial candidate, made written and oral statements concerning his political affiliations and his views of classes of parties and issues that were hate-filled, unprofessional and inappropriate. (Case No. SC19-569)