Leslie H. Smith, Spokesperson for 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, suspending five, reprimanding two, and revoking the licenses of four. One attorney was placed on probation.
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.
Summaries of orders issued from January 24, 2022, to February 24, 2022
- Roger Alan Andrews, P.O. Box 38, Crawfordville, public reprimand by publication and ethics school effective 30 days following a Feb. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Andrews represented a client in a worker’s compensation matter but failed to adequately communicate despite repeated requests for status updates. He also failed to settle the case despite the client’s repeated instruction for him to do so. After Andrews withdrew from the case, the client settled the case as a pro se litigant. In a second matter, Andrews represented a client in a personal injury claim. Andrews claimed he informed the client that there was no avenue of relief and ultimately gave the client money because he felt sorry for her. An audit of Andrews’s trust account reflected that he had not settled the client’s case and the money he gave her came from his earned fees from other cases. The audit also showed that he failed to timely move his earned fees from his trust account to his operating account. (Case No: SC21-1086)
- Sam Babbs III, 4767 New Broad St., Suite 308, Orlando, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective, 30 days following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Babbs petitioned for disciplinary revocation while the Bar was investigating allegations that he improperly took legal fees intended for his former employer, failed to maintain the required trust account records, failed to follow the minimum trust accounting procedures and negotiated lower payments for clients’ medical bills and failed to account for the difference in funds. In addition, the Bar was investigating allegations that Babbs engaged in a pattern of improperly representing out-of-state clients in their bankruptcy matters in jurisdictions where he was not admitted to practice law. (Case No: SC21-1701)
- Richard Lee Brewster, 1089 West Morse Blvd., Suite B, Winter Park, suspended for 45 days effective March 14, (Admitted to practice: 2013) Brewster, at the direction of his client, the buyer in a commercial real estate deal, responded to an inquiry by the seller’s attorney via e-mail that requested confirmation of the escrow deposit and the identity of the escrow agent, who pursuant to the contract was to be selected by the buyer. Brewster responded by email that he had the deposit check (which, according to the contract, would become nonrefundable at a later date) and he named the escrow agent. Brewster did not possess the deposit check when he sent the e-mail. Immediately thereafter, his client told Brewster that he might wire the deposit instead and that he was going to consider using two other law firms as escrow agents. Brewster never corrected or updated the information he had earlier sent in the e-mail to the seller. The buyer never made a deposit to any escrow agent, and this was not discovered by the seller until after the deposit would have become nonrefundable. The deal to buy the property did not close. (Case No: SC21-1290)
- Raymond Todd Burbine, P.O. Box 1711, Dunedin, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission in five years effective 30 days following a Feb. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Burbine’s petition involved allegations regarding the permanent termination of his license to practice before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court due to his failure to represent his clients competently and diligently before the Court. Burbine also was alleged to have failed to competently represent a client in a separate probate matter. (Case No: SC22-58)
- Tracy N. Davis, 3601 S.W. Foremost Dr., Port St. Lucie, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) In a family law matter, Davis had the client sign a blank page with the exception of the signature block in which he affirmed under the oath the truthfulness of the claims in the petition. Davis then later drafted the petition, improperly notarized the client’s signature, and filed the document with the court. Davis also failed to notify the client of a hearing set in the matter, and she also failed to attend the hearing on the client’s behalf as a result of the email with the notice going to her spam folder. In a second matter, Davis notarized a document signed by the pro se opposing party who was not in her presence violating the notary law. (Case No: SC22-105)
- Mary Michele Hudson, 4440 PGA Blvd., Suite 600, Palm Beach Gardens, suspended effective 30 days following a Feb. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Hudson failed to respond to The Florida Bar File No. 2019-50,659(17I). The Bar filed its Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause on Dec. 21, 2021, and the Florida Supreme Court ordered Hudson to show cause by Jan. 5, 2022. Hudson failed to file a response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause. (Case No: SC21-1734)
- Eric Satin, 16083 Villa Vizcaya Pl., Delray Beach, suspended for 18 months effective 30 days following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Satin engaged in significant misconduct in his own divorce, including disrupting judicial hearings; use of profanity in zoom hearings and in pleadings; introduction of irrelevant and scandalous information about opposing counsel in the proceedings; refusal to comply with court orders; and direct communication with his former spouse and judge in the case, despite warnings to refrain from doing so. (Case No: SC22-111)
- Brandon Robert Scheele, 501 E Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1700, Tampa, public reprimand by publication and probation for two years effective immediately following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Scheele was disciplined for two matters. In the first matter, Scheele was arrested and subsequently charged with multiple criminal offenses. After treatment and successful completion of a pretrial diversion program, all charges were dropped. In the second matter, Scheele engaged in unprofessional behavior during a deposition resulting in a hearing before the judge, for which Scheele failed to appear. (Case No: SC22-100)
- Sean Patrick Sheppard, 110 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 1570, Fort Lauderdale, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission not sooner than Sept. 3, 2026, effective immediately following a Feb. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Sheppard’s agreement to add an additional year for him to have the opportunity to petition for readmission was based on client contact after the date Sheppard agreed to cease the practice of law. (Case No: SC22-35)
- John William Schmitz, 801 Brickell Ave., Fl 8, Miami, disciplinary revocation effective 30 days following a Feb. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) Schmitz engaged in multiple discovery violations and failures to abide by the court’s rulings in a circuit court proceeding in which Schmitz is a party in a contentious family business dispute. (Case No. SC21-1712)
- Jonathan Stephen Schwartz, 200 S.E. 1st St., Suite 505, Miami, suspended for 3 years effective 30 days following a Feb. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Schwartz showed two altered photocopied versions of black and white police photo lineups to the victim at a deposition. Schwartz changed the picture of his identified client to another individual in one of the lineups and changed the hairstyles in the other. However, Schwartz retained the victim’s markings around the altered photos, such as her circle around the person she identified and her signature and the date beneath the circled photo. Schwartz did not tell the victim or the prosecutor he had changed the lineups before using them in the deposition. The Court stated the altered lineups were inherently deceptive. (Case No. SC17-1391)
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 110,000 members of The Florida Bar.