Supreme Court disciplines 9 attorneys
The Florida Bar, the state's guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined nine attorneys, disbarring four and suspending five. One attorney received more than one form of discipline and was ordered to pay restitution.
One is from Jacksonville. Lisa Lovinggood Kelly was suspended for 91 days.
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 95,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.
Since 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys' individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and downloaded from The Florida Bar's website,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 proceed through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, less than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
• Harold M. Braxton, 9132 S.W. 78th Place, Miami, permanently disbarred, effective immediately, following a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1965) In violation of the Sept. 10, 1998, court order accepting his disciplinary resignation, Braxton continued to engage in the practice of law by routinely issuing and signing his own subpoenas in the course of several civil lawsuits in which he represented himself pro se. (Case No. SC11-356)
• Donald Joseph Grasso, 1314 Hooper Ave., Toms River, N.J., suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Grasso pleaded guilty and was adjudicated in a New Jersey criminal case of conspiracy to defraud the United States, a felony. (Case No. SC13-148)
• Arthur W. Gundling, 8211 W. Broward Blvd., Suite 440, Plantation, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 5 court order. Further, Gundling shall pay restitution of $35,949 to 10 clients before seeking reinstatement. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Gundling entered into a partnership with a non-lawyer handling loan modification cases. Gundling failed to properly supervise the non-lawyer employees who had contact with his clients and he failed to properly represent the clients who paid for services and were advised he would be representing them. (Case No. SC12-1753)
• Brian Zachary Stern Herzig, 12935 W. Highway 42, Prospect, Ky., disbarred, effective 30 days from a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) After being retained, Herzig failed to diligently represent a group of homeowners who were suing the developer of their community. Herzig failed to respond to the Bar's inquiries regarding the matter and he failed to appear at a final Bar hearing. (Case No. SC12-93)
• James Lewis Hunter, 150 Second Ave. N., Suite 1170, St. Petersburg, permanently disbarred, effective immediately, following a Feb. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Hunter was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a May 22, 2012, disbarment order. Hunter was required to provide a sworn affidavit to The Florida Bar within 30 days of his disbarment, listing the names and addresses of all people and entities that were furnished a copy of his disbarment order. (Case No. SC12-1758)
• Lisa Lovingood Kelly, P.O. Box 51325, Jacksonville, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Kelly made a false statement during her sworn testimony before a judge. (Case No. SC11-1540)
• Tony J. McDonald, 37 N. Orange Ave., Suite 500, Orlando, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Jan. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) McDonald pleaded no contest in court to trafficking in illegal drugs/controlled substance, a first-degree felony. He was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to 18 years of probation as well as a $500,000 fine and court costs. (Case No. SC13-17)
• William Grandon Whitcomb, 2016 Bayside Parkway, Fort Myers, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Whitcomb was arrested on Oct. 5, 2011, in Fort Myers and charged with possession of child pornography with intent to promote, a second-degree felony. He pleaded no contest on Jan. 2 to the amended information of the unauthorized use of a computer, a third-degree felony. Adjudication was withheld and Whitcomb was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to pay court costs and costs of prosecution. (Case No. SC13-117)
• Karen Timberlake White, 4124 Steve Reynolds Blvd., Norcross, Ga., disbarred, effective immediately, following a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) White was also a member of the State Bar of Georgia and was disbarred in Georgia in 2010. The Florida Bar's disciplinary action is based on the Georgia disbarment. In at least two instances, White retained clients and failed to diligently represent them. White did not respond to client calls and failed to otherwise communicate. She failed to return any unearned fees and abandoned her clients. White also failed to timely notify the Bar of her interim suspension and subsequent disbarment in Georgia. (Case No. SC12-334)