Supreme Court disciplines 16 attorneys
The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 16 attorneys, disbarring seven and suspending six.
Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Two attorneys were placed on probation; two attorneys were publicly reprimanded. One attorney was ordered to pay restitution.
Two Jacksonville attorneys, Casey Roche Bryant and John David Todd, were disciplined. Two other area attorneys, Hugh James McCarthy Jr. of Fernandina Beach and Jean Moyer of Palatka, also were disciplined.
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 90,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.
Since Aug. 1, 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys’ individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and/or downloaded from The Florida Bar’s website, www.floridabar.org.
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, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
• Nathan Adler, 13620 Gulf Breeze St., Fort Myers, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, following an Aug. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Adler was found in contempt for non-compliance with the conditions of his June 2010 suspension. Adler failed to submit the required sworn affidavit listing persons and entities to whom he provided a copy of his suspension order. He also failed to respond to official Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC11-594)
• Casey Roche Bryant, 630 W. Adams St., Suite 202, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded by the Board of Governors following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Bryant was conditionally admitted to The Florida Bar and placed on probation for four years and six months based on alcohol and substance abuse issues. He was held in contempt of court for failing to strictly comply with the terms of the conditional admission order. (Case No. SC11-910)
• Kevin Keenan Chase, 390 N. Orange Ave., Suite 1000, Orlando, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a July 14 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Chase is placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 1994) In November 2008, Chase was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. One week after successfully completing a pretrial diversion program, he was arrested for DUI, a misdemeanor, and felony, based upon his possession of hydrocodone pills without a prescription. The felony charge was dropped after successful completion of the drug court program. (Case No. SC10-2257)
• Patrick Cicalese, 129 Center St., Jupiter, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a July 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Cicalese failed to comply with the conditions of his Jan. 25 disbarment. He was required to file a sworn affidavit with The Florida Bar within 30 days of his disbarment, listing the names and addresses of all clients, opposing counsel and entities that were furnished a copy of his disbarment order. (Case No. SC11-915)
• David Anthony Harper, 2674 Derbyshire Road, Maitland, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from an Aug. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Harper assisted his parents in preparing a lawsuit that was filed pro se in Seminole County. He subsequently challenged the actions of certain judges for reasons that were unclear; he scheduled a hearing before a judge that violated the administrative orders of the circuit; and he knowingly made false statements to a tribunal regarding the qualifications or integrity of the judges in Seminole County. (Case No. SC09-2344)
• Kevin J. Hubbart, 2471 N. McMullen Booth Road, Suite 316, Clearwater, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Hubbart violated a suspension order of July 2009, which prevented him from practicing law. Nevertheless, Hubbart practiced law after his suspension by agreeing to prepare a contract and become a registered agent and director for a client’s company. He has been found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law, committing an unlawful act, and of conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. (Case Nos. SC09-1040, SC09-1218, & SC10-862)
• Michael Andrew Jones, P.O. Box 1881, Englewood, disbarred for 10 years, effective retroactive to Feb. 23, 2004, following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) In February 2004, Jones was disbarred and unable to practice law in Florida. Jones began working for a lawyer in 2005 while disbarred, and had direct contact with a client, but did not divulge that he was a non-attorney, which was misleading. He also failed to file reports with the Bar regarding his newly found employment, and failed to provide the proper affidavit to The Florida Bar regarding his new job. (Case No. SC10-892)
• Lorn Leitman, 240 Crandon Blvd., Suite 266, Key Biscayne, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Leitman pleaded guilty in court to one felony count of mail fraud. (Case No. SC11-1312)
• Hugh James McCarthy Jr., 1894 S. 14th St., Suite 4A, Fernandina Beach, publicly reprimanded following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) McCarthy entered into a business relationship with a client that he met in an alcohol and substance abuse treatment meeting. He accepted a $2,400 retainer to handle the man’s divorce. In addition to the retainer, McCarthy also received a $1,000 loan. The relationship subsequently deteriorated, and McCarthy withdrew from the case. He failed to communicate with his client and initially failed to answer Bar Grievance Committee inquiries about the case. McCarthy also failed to timely repay the loan. (Case No. SC11-1483)
• John Charles Mitchell II, P.O. Box 540695, Orlando, suspended for 90 days, effective immediately, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) Mitchell was an opposing party in litigation against a construction company. He exhibited unprofessional behavior by impersonating an attorney involved in the litigation and impersonating another attorney on a website; he threatened to report an expert witness’ employer to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation without a valid reason, and he filed a civil fraud lawsuit without good faith. Mitchell also made false allegations against an interviewer on the opposing side. (Case SC11-82)
• Jean Moyer, 399 Reid St., Palatka, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Upon respondent’s failure to notify her clients, opposing counsel, and the tribunals of her disbarment in Case No. SC10-1788 as required by the court’s March 22, 2011, order, the bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause. Respondent failed to respond to the court’s order. (Case No. SC11-1045)
• James Bradford Permar, P.O. Box 9000, Bartow, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Permar pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, a second-degree felony. Permar also pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced to 10 and five-year terms of concurrent probation, respectively. (Case No. SC11-975)
• Doris Wellman Sanders, 2181 Crawfordville Highway, Crawfordville, suspended until further order, effective immediately, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Sanders appeared to be causing great public harm. A Bar investigation indicated theft of funds by Sanders from a client’s revocable trust. While serving as the sole trustee of the trust, Sanders gave gifts to her boyfriend and relatives totaling more than $41,000. She also paid off two personal mortgages worth $95,000 and paid herself nearly $25,000 in attorney’s fees, but failed to provide an explanation as to what she did to earn the fees. (Case No. SC11-1661)
• Jeffrey Stephen Schelling, 2223 Trade Center Way, Naples, suspended for 45 days, effective 30 days and further, placed on probation for two years, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Schelling provided improper financial assistance to a client. He advanced funds totaling $6,000 to a woman to assist her in covering her living expenses, including funds advanced from his trust account. (Case No. SC11-433)
• John David Todd, P.O. Box 551563, Jacksonville, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Todd failed to comply with the conditions of a February 2010 suspension order. He was required to attend the Bar’s trust accounting workshop and complete five hours of continuing legal education in probate law within one year of the court’s order. He was also required to file a sworn affidavit with The Florida Bar within 30 days of his suspension, listing the names and addresses of all clients, opposing counsel and entities that were furnished a copy of his suspension order. (Case No. SC11-1185)
• R. Scott Whitehead, 4507 Furling Lane, Suite 209, Destin, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Whitehead shall pay restitution totaling more than $36,000 to 12 people. Whitehead was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to follow a rehabilitation program for substance abuse problems. He intentionally misrepresented the truth and tried to deceive the grievance committee regarding his status. He subsequently was sentenced to 20 months in jail for violating probation and other criminal charges. In numerous other instances, Whitehead failed to diligently represent his clients. He charged excessive fees and he failed to return unearned fees. Whitehead also failed to communicate with clients and The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC10-1550)