The Department of Lawyer Regulation of The Florida Bar informed local Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court has recently disciplined 11 attorneys, disbarring one, revoking the license of one, suspending eight and reprimanding one. One attorney was also placed on probation and 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. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
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 108,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles
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.
Summaries of orders issued from July 28 to August 20, 2020
Peter Arnold Robertson, 5575 A1A South, Suite 116, Saint Augustine, suspended for 90 days and required to complete ethics school and a professionalism workshop effective 30 days following an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Robertson, an attorney and general contractor who owns a construction company, referred clients of his law firm to his construction company without advising them to seek independent counsel and without putting the terms of the business transaction in writing with the clients’ informed consent. Robertson represented a married couple against the seller of a home for failing to disclose mold and water damage. The husband fired Robertson after discovering an impermissible personal relationship had developed between Robertson and his wife. Despite the conflict of interest, and having been fired by the husband, Robertson filed documents with the court on behalf of both clients. (Case No: SC20-1050)
Alan Douglas Henderson, 230 Canal Blvd., Suite 3, Ponte Vedra Beach, suspended for 30 days and directed to attend ethics school and a professionalism workshop effective 30 days following a July 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Henderson represented a close family friend who had filed a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence against her husband. Henderson instructed his client to break into a safe containing the husband’s records and after reviewing the confidential medical records, Henderson made copies to use at an upcoming proceeding. (Case No: SC19-517)
Michael Jonathan Braunschweig, 5455 S.W. 8th St., Suite 255, Coral Gables, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following a July 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Braunschweig neglected and/or abandoned client matters and failed to communicate and keep clients reasonably informed. Braunschweig had previously been suspended for failing to respond to Bar inquiries. (Case No: SC20-952)
LeesaAnn Nicole Dodds, 412 E. Madison St., Suite 909, Tampa, suspended effective 30 days following an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Dodds failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry and the Bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Request for Order to Show Cause with The Florida Supreme Court. The Court issued an Order to Show Cause and Dodds failed to respond. (Court Case No: SC20-834)
Michael Joseph Gabor, 1636 Arrowhead Trail, Neptune Beach, suspended for three years effective nunc pro tunc to Jan. 18, 2020 following an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Gabor pleaded no contest to one count of felony aggravated battery (causing great bodily harm) after a domestic altercation in his home. Gabor also failed to notify the Bar of his felony arrest and charges. (Case No: SC19-2112)
Anton Aggrey Gammons, P.O. Box 682048, Orlando, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days following a July 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Gammons pleaded no contest to possessing cocaine, 20 grams or less of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. After Gammons successfully completed Veteran’s Court, the criminal charges were dismissed. (Case No: SC20-1028)
Albert Hessberg III, 80 State St., Albany, N.Y., disbarred effective 30 days following an Aug. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) A client authorized Coggin to charge $1,500 to her credit card to represent her in a divorce proceeding. Coggin subsequently made eight additional charges to the card without the client’s permission, totaling $12,000 In another matter, Coggin knowingly overcharged a client by $1,000. This is a reciprocal discipline action, based on an order from the Supreme Court of New York. (Case No: SC19-2134)
Kevin E. Paul, PO Box 938, St. Petersburg, suspended for one year effective 30 days from an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) While representing Roberta Kaplan in multiple foreclosure litigation cases, Paul filed numerous motions to quash service of process, challenging the validity of the plaintiffs’ attempts to serve Kaplan. Paul did not independently investigate to determine the validity of service or if his client was evading service. Kaplan never executed any document in Paul’s presence and Paul took no step to verify the authenticity of her signature. His actions caused significant and unjust delays in litigation. (Case No: SC20-1045)
William S. Saliba, 1065 W. Morse Blvd., Suite 101, Winter Park, public reprimand and required to complete ethics school effective 15 days following a July 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) Saliba engaged in a pattern of misconduct during his association with a business that assists clients in exiting their timeshare contracts. Saliba did not personally meet with the clients, and he had no direct supervision of the employees who communicated with the clients and the timeshare companies. One client filed a Bar complaint alleging that Saliba failed to diligently represent him and failed to provide adequate communication concerning his legal matter. (Case No: SC20-315)
Adrian Shiand Webster-Cooley, 8451 Gate Parkway West, Suite 23, Jacksonville, suspended for three years followed by one-year of probation and must pay restitution, effective nunc pro tunc to May 18, 2020, following a July 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2017) Webster-Cooley joined with nonlawyers through “The Criminal Defense League,” which solicited clients nationwide via the internet for mostly criminal matters. Nonlawyers handled all aspects of cases, harming clients, and clients had trouble communicating with employees. The Criminal Defense League listed Webster-Cooley as managing attorney though he had no actual involvement in any of the cases. He also created Criminal Defense League Processing, Inc., solely for the purpose of receiving client funds and transmitting that money to the nonlawyers. (Case No: SC20-561)
Randall Albert Werre, P.O. Box 387, Milton, suspended for three years effective immediately following a July 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Werre was held in contempt of the Court’s orders dated Sept. 12, 2019, and Dec. 4, 2019, for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC20-829)