Leslie H. Smith, spokesman for the Department of Lawyer Regulation of The Florida Bar informed local Historic City News reporters that in recent court orders the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 30 attorneys, including one in St Augustine: disbarring six, suspending 11, admonishing two, reprimanding six and revoking the licenses of five. 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 November 19, 2021, to December 20, 2021
Peter Arnold Robertson, 5575 A1A South, Suite 116, Saint Augustine, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Following an Aug. 6 order suspending Robertson from the practice of law for ninety days, Robertson discovered additional persons he was required to notify and provide a copy of his suspension order as required by under Rule 3-5.1(h). Robertson failed to provide an amended affidavit listing the additional people that were notified after his initial and first amended affidavits were filed with the Bar. In addition, Robertson’s associates filed several pleadings on his behalf after the effective date of his suspension. (Case No: SC21-676)
Douglas James Barnard, 76 4th St. N., Unit 1023, St. Petersburg, disbarred effective immediately following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Barnard became CLE delinquent and ineligible to practice law in October 2019. Thereafter, he accepted legal fees and engaged in the practice of law in multiple clients’ matters while suspended due to CLER delinquency. In at least one client matter, Barnard failed to perform the legal services he was hired to complete, which caused harm to a client. Barnard also failed to reasonably communicate with the client. Barnard did not respond to official Bar inquiries in at least two matters and did not file an Answer to the Bar’s complaint. (Case No: SC21-308)
Perry L. Cameron Jr., 3810 Murrell Rd., Suite 317, Rockledge, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Cameron misappropriated trust funds by transferring settlement funds, to which he was not entitled, to his operating account and a personal account. Cameron also used settlement funds to pay liabilities in unrelated client matters. (Case No: SC21-1563)
John Kevin Carey, 3186 Bayshore Oaks Dr., Tampa, was suspended for 90 days and required ethics school, Professionalism Workshop, and FLA evaluation effective 30 days following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Carey engaged in a sexual relationship with a client while representing the client in multiple lawsuits, including the client’s dissolution of marriage. The sexual relationship became a contentious issue during the litigation, which negatively affected the proceedings, including depositions, hearings, and court filings. Carey was also unprofessional in his communications with the opposing counsel and the opposing party. (Case No: SC21-1673)
Robert B. Cook, P.O. Box 3598, Tequesta, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1971) Cook did not appear at court hearings to represent clients in two separate foreclosure cases. In one matter, an associate attorney in Cook’s office was handling the case and left on an emergency medical leave. A hearing was not calendared, and sufficient efforts were not made by Cook to make certain all pending matters were covered. A final judgment was entered, but later set aside and Cook continued to represent the client. In the other matter, Cook filed a motion to withdraw, wrongly believing an order was entered relieving him of responsibility in the case and did not appear when a final judgment was entered. The final judgment was set aside and Cook continued to represent the client. (Case No: SC21-1687)
Timmy W. Cox, Sr., 7401 S.W. 16th St., Plantation, suspended for one year effective forty-five days following a Nov. 10, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Cox conducted himself in a disrespectful manner toward a judge in sidebar and in open court during a case. In an adoption case, Cox demonstrated incompetence and a lack of decorum during a petition hearing. The petition was legally insufficient on its face and Cox failed to advise the mother she was agreeing to irrevocably surrender her parental rights. In another case, Cox failed to appear at a properly noticed hearing. (Case No: SC20-1639)
Thomas Jackson Craft, Jr., P.O. Box 4143, Tequesta, disciplinary revocation effective immediately following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Craft pled guilty plea to the felony of securities fraud in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. (Case No: SC21-1565)
Constance Daniels, P.O. Box 6219, Brandon, admonishment in writing and directed to attend Ethics School effective immediately following a Nov. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Daniels failed to act with reasonable diligence and failed to communicate with her client in connection with a dissolution of marriage action. Daniels also failed to timely respond to the Bar’s formal complaint. (Case No: SC21-683)
Cesar J. Dominguez, 2000 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 628, Coral Gables, disbarred effective 30 days following a Nov. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Dominguez, in the first matter, repeatedly represented to the trial court and parties involved that he would not disburse the escrow funds during the pendency of the litigation and that the funds remained in trust. However, Dominguez had already disbursed the funds to his client at the time he made the representations. Dominguez repaid the funds to the complainant after the Bar grievance was filed. In the second matter, Dominguez sent two separate escrow receipt verifications acknowledging that he received the escrow funds. However, he never deposited any of the buyer’s earnest deposit funds he acknowledged receiving into his trust account. He maintained that he was unaware he had to deposit the checks and admitted that he returned the checks to his client, the buyers despite the escrow agreement expressly requiring the funds to be deposited. A judgment was entered in favor of the seller in which Dominguez was held jointly and severally liable for the funds with his clients. Dominguez has repaid a portion of the funds. (Case No: SC20-621)
Valerie Kaye Downing, 1460 Golden Gate Pkwy., Suite 103-220, Naples, disbarred effective 30 days following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Downing failed to competently and diligently represent a client in an eviction matter, resulting in an order of monetary sanctions for payment of the opposing party’s attorney’s fees being issued against Downing and her client. Downing also failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings. (Case No: SC21-856)
Robert Charles Grady, 6243 Autumn Berry Cir., Jacksonville, suspended for one year effective immediately following a Nov. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Grady was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated March 17, 2021, for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC21-1274)
Gregory John Hoag, 218 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, public reprimand by publication and completion of three-year FLA contract effective immediately following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Hoag was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in May 2019 for which he plead no contest, adjudication withheld and completed the conditions of his probation. (Case No: SC21-1683)
Melanie L. Johnson, 4790 Longbow Dr., Titusville, suspended effective 30 days following a Dec. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Johnson engaged in misconduct, including, but not limited to, misappropriating client funds and commingling attorney and client funds. (Case No: SC21-1675)
Evan Scott Kagan, P.O. Box 8756, Calabasas, CA., disciplinary revocation effective immediately following a Dec. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Kagan misused trust funds and failed to comply, in full, with a Bar subpoena. (Case No: SC21-1492)
Mario A. Lamar, 3971 S.W. 8th St., Suite 305, Coral Gables, suspended for 3 years effective 30 days following a Dec. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Lamar handled the civil representation between Client A and Client B, who were business partners, and both were indicted on federal charges. Client A agreed to testify against Client B in the criminal matter. Even though Client A had testified against Client B in the criminal matter, Lamar agreed to represent both parties. Lamar was engaged to separate their business interests, where the split ended up favoring Client A over Client B. Lamar disbursed all the assets from one investment to Client A despite knowing Client B had claimed an interest. The referee found that Lamar had an un-waivable conflict in representing the two men, that he had engaged in acts that were deceitful, fraudulent, or dishonest, and that he had distributed money improperly from his trust account. (Case No: SC18-1600)
Erica Joanne Leiser, P.O. Box 372184, Satellite Beach, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) In 2017, Leiser was adjudicated guilty of DUI, a second-degree misdemeanor. She failed to notify The Florida Bar of this determination or judgment within 10 days of the entry of the judgment or determination of guilt to DUI. In another case in 2021, Leiser pled no contest and was adjudicated guilty of Refusal to Give Breath Test after Previous Suspension, a first-degree misdemeanor, and Reckless Driving with Property Damage with alcohol as a factor, a first-degree misdemeanor. The court sentenced Leiser to probation for 24 months that may not be terminated until she has completed 18 months of probation. (Case No: SC21-1227)
Brittany Marie Loper, 5534 S.E. 119th Pl., Jasper, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission effective 30 days following a Dec. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Loper failed to diligently pursue her clients’ matters, failed to maintain communication with the clients, and did not complete the representation for which she had been hired. Further, Loper was arrested in Hamilton County as Brittany Cooper, on two counts of felony forgery and one count of uttering. Loper allegedly forged a notary signature on adoption papers and forged the signature of a judge on a court document. (Case No: SC21-1303)
Antonio Giovonnie Martin, P.O. Box 220, Davenport, suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Martin engaged in a conflict of interest when he concurrently represented the grantor, the beneficiary, and himself as trustee and counsel for the grantor and the beneficiary in the creation of a land trust, as well as representing the grantor in the foreclosure defense for the subject property. Martin did not obtain a signed, written waiver from the parties nor recommend that they consult with independent counsel. Martin withdrew from representing the parties. (Case No: SC21-915)
Julio J. Martinez, 6450 Collins Ave., Apt. 1108, Miami Beach, public reprimand by publication and two years’ probation effective 30 days following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Martinez was arrested after a traffic stop and charged with possession of cocaine, license suspended without knowledge, speeding, possession of cannabis, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Subsequently, the prosecutor dropped the possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia counts. Martinez was accepted into the Pretrial Intervention program and after successful completion of the Pretrial Intervention program, all remaining charges were dropped. The grievance committee considered this matter and made a diversion recommendation that required Martinez to enter into a contract with FLA, Inc. Martinez failed to comply with the conditions of his FLA, Inc. contract after testing positive for cocaine several times. (Case No: SC21-1532)
Kelly Anne McCabe, 535 Central Ave., Suite 435, St. Petersburg, disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) McCabe was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated June 17, 2021, for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of her suspension. (Case No: SC21-1371)
Timmy McClain, P.O. Box 536387, Orlando, admonishment by publication effective 30 days following a Dec 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) McClain filed a Motion to Withdraw from his representation of a defendant in a civil matter but did not set the motion for hearing. The court ordered McClain to schedule a hearing for the Motion to Withdraw or reaffirm his representation of the defendant. When McClain failed to respond, the plaintiff’s counsel set a hearing on the Motion to Withdraw. The court issued an Order to Show Cause directing McClain to show cause why he failed to appear for the hearing and failed to set the Motion to Withdraw for hearing. The court further informed The Florida Bar of McClain’s conduct. As soon as McClain learned of the Bar grievance and the underlying facts, he took steps to communicate with the parties and court to resolve the situation. (Case No: SC21-1149)
Enrique Miranda, 7820 SW 117th St., Miami, was disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Miranda inappropriately disbursed escrow funds; made misrepresentations about the funds held in trust; and violated the fiduciary duty owed to both the remitter and the beneficiary of the funds deposited. Miranda also facilitated fraud by improperly disbursing funds in a real estate transaction. (Case No: SC21-183).
Richard Mark Nummi, 701 77th Ave. N., Unit 56194, St. Petersburg, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days following a Nov. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Nummi held excessive fees belonging to him in his trust account and commingled earned fees in the trust account. The Bar’s audit also determined that the shortage in a client’s ledger was covered by Nummi’s firm funds in the account and no other client’s funds were used. Nummi’s trust account records were not in compliance with the Rules. Nummi failed to timely respond to the Bar’s requests for information in the case and failed to reasonably communicate with a client. (Case No: SC21-23)
Kelsay Dayon Patterson, P.O. Box 273826, Tampa, suspended for two years and must complete ethics school and professionalism workshop effective immediately following a Dec. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Patterson was counsel for a plaintiff in a civil rights case in the United States District Court Middle District of Florida Orlando Division. During his representation, Patterson acted vexatiously throughout the litigation, multiplying and delaying the proceedings, and consistently alleging unfounded racial and other biased partiality on the part of opposing counsel and the judiciary. Further, Patterson misused an inadvertently disclosed fax and interrogatories in the litigation. (Case No: SC19-2070)
S. A. Siddiqui, 3840 Belfort Rd., Suite 302, Jacksonville, suspended for three years effective immediately following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Siddiqui engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving four separate client matters. Siddiqui failed to provide his clients with competent representation and adequate communication, and he improperly disclosed confidential information. Siddiqui also threatened to sue two clients for filing grievances with The Florida Bar. In addition, Siddiqui failed to respond timely to the Bar’s inquiries. (Case No: SC21-514)
Marc Jeremy Soss, P.O. Box 110127, Lakewood Ranch, suspended for 30 days and attend ethics school effective 30 days following a Dec. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Soss represented a client in a guardianship matter pertaining to the client’s husband and as the surviving spouse of the decedent in the probate of the husband’s estate. He also represented the same client in seeking reimbursement from the client’s deceased husband’s trust for funds she expended for his care. During the representation, the client appointed Soss as successor trustee. Soss served the notice of the appointment as successor trustee on the interested parties and beneficiaries, but not on the court for approval or confirmation. Soss simultaneously served as counsel for the client and trustee of the husband’s Revocable Trust. During the Bar’s investigation of the conflict of interest, Soss provided a PDF copy of a conflict waiver that he had altered at or around the time the document was requested. While acting as a trustee, Soss disbursed funds that he was not legally entitled to use as he was not legally the successor trustee. After the court ordered him to do so, Soss returned the funds he had disbursed. (Case No: SC21-694)
Stuart Jared Starr, 5241 S.W. 9th St., Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately following a Dec. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1970) Starr was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated February 18, 2021, for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC21-1279)
Robyn Lynn Sztyndor, 123 N.E. 17th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, public reprimand before the Florida Bar Board of Governors effective immediately following a Nov. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Sztyndor acted unprofessionally in four separate matters. In two of the matters, Sztyndor made unprofessional and sarcastic remarks about opposing counsel and witnesses in email communications. She also made unprofessional statements orally, in emails, and in court filings impugning the integrity of a judge. At a deposition, Sztyndor told the deponent that she would seek sanctions, contempt, and move to strike their claim after the witness requested to postpone the deposition to hire independent counsel. Lastly, Sztyndor questioned the opposing counsel’s veracity at a deposition and made similar allegations against the opposing counsel in email communications with the judge’s judicial assistant and in a motion filed with the court. Sztyndor’s conduct resulted in a burden on opposing counsel’s clients, and the clients fired opposing counsel. (Case No: SC21-979)
Timothy Wayne Terry, 501 N. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) In three separate family law matters, Terry failed to diligently represent and maintain adequate communication with his clients. Terry refunded his fees and attempted to mitigate his misconduct to the best of his abilities. (Case No: SC21-1046)
Jordan Garrett Weinkle, 1688 Meridian Ave., Suite 440, Miami Beach, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following a Dec. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) Allegations in a related underlying emergency suspension proceeding include misappropriation of funds held in trust to pay property taxes in a mortgage transaction; misrepresentations; and failure to respond to Bar inquiries. (Case No: SC21-1459).