Monthly Archives: January 2013

1/31/13 Florida Supreme Court opinion adopts and implements all of The Florida Bar’s proposed comprehensive advertising rules with one minor exception

Hello everyone and welcome to this Breaking News Ethics Alert blog to advise that the Supreme Court of Florida issued a split opinion today (January 31, 2013) adopting all of The Florida Bar’s proposed comprehensive revisions to the Bar advertising rules with a minor exception and a complete renumbering of the rules.  Justices Polston, Lewis, LaBarga, and Perry concurred in the opinion, Justice Quince concurred in part and dissented in part, and Justices Pariente and Canady dissented and issued separate opinions.  The Court’s opinion is In Re: Amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar-Subchapter 4-7, Lawyer Advertising Rules, No. SC11-1327.  The opinion is at: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2013/sc11-1327.pdf.  The comprehensive advertising rule amendments will become effective on May 1, 2013, at 12:01 a.m.

The only change that the opinion made to the comprehensive rules proposed by the Bar (beyond the renumbering) is as follows: “proposed new rule 4-7.13(b)(10) regarding the use of a judicial, executive, or legislative branch title by a current, former, or retired judicial, executive, or legislative branch official who is currently engaged in the practice of law.  We have determined that the use of such a title is not inherently misleading if it is accompanied by clear modifiers and the title is placed subsequent to the person’s name.  For example, a former judge may not state “Judge Doe (retired)” or “Judge Doe, former circuit judge.”  However, she may state “Jane Doe, Florida Bar member, former circuit judge” or “Jane Doe, retired circuit judge.”  We have modified the proposal and the accompanying comment accordingly.”

Bottom line:  As I have discussed in previous Ethics Alerts, the revisions are comprehensive and will result in a sea change with regard to lawyer advertising regulation in Florida.  I plan to send additional Ethics Alerts addressing each rule revision.

…and be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

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Filed under Florida Lawyer advertising rules, joe corsmeier, Lawyer advertising rules, Lawyers and social media

The Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee approves Advisory Opinion 12-3 approving cloud computing with caveats on confidentiality and other issues

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent approval by the Professional Ethics Committee (PEC) of Proposed Advisory Opinion (PAO) 12-3 on cloud computing with the deletion of language related to disclosure to the client and obtaining informed consent.  The revised Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-3 is online here: PAO 12-3

As background, at its June 22, 2012 meeting, the PEC voted to request that The Florida Bar Board of Governors (BOG) direct it to draft a proposed advisory opinion on lawyers use of cloud computing.  At its July 27, 2012 meeting, the BOG voted to approve the committee’s request.  The PEC deferred on consideration of the proposed opinion at its September 21, 2012 meeting for lack of time and the proposed opinion was considered by the PEC at its recent meeting on January 25, 2013.  The PEC voted 19-4 at the meeting to adopt the draft Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-3 with the deletion of the following language at lines 96-101:

In such cases, the lawyer should disclose to the client that the lawyer intends to work “in the cloud” and obtain the client’s informed consent.  Otherwise, the lawyer need not specifically obtain the client’s consent, as use of the cloud falls within the exception in Rule 4-1.6(c)(1) of serving the client’s interests.  If a client specifically prohibits the use of cloud computing, the lawyer may not do so.  Id.

 The proposed advisory opinion concludes:  “In summary, lawyers may use cloud computing if they take reasonable precautions to ensure that confidentiality of client information is maintained. The lawyer should research the service provider to be used, should ensure that the service provider maintains adequate security, should ensure that the lawyer has adequate access to the information stored remotely, and should consider backing up the data elsewhere as a precaution.”

The PEC will consider any comments on the proposed PAO at its meeting on June 28, 2013 at the Bar’s Annual Convention at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.  According to the Bar’s website, any comments “must contain the proposed advisory opinion number and clearly state the issues for the committee to consider.  A written argument may be included explaining why the Florida Bar member believes the committee’s opinion is either correct or incorrect and may contain citations to relevant authorities.  Any comments should be submitted to Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300, and must be postmarked no later than March 18, 2013.”

Bottom line:  this Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-3 on cloud computing should be finalized by the PEC at its meeting in June and will then be reviewed by the Bar’s Board of Governors.  If it is approved by the BOG, the Advisory Opinion will become final.

Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

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Filed under Attorney Ethics, Attorney/client privilege and confidentiality, Florida lawyer cloud computing, Florida Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, joe corsmeier, Lawyer cloud computing and confidentiality, Lawyer ethics opinion cloud computing, Lawyer ethics opinions

West Virginia lawyer receives 30 day suspension for failing to move to correct sentencing order after repeated requests and promises to do so and after being admonished 5 previous times for similar misconduct

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss a recent West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals opinion imposing a 30 day suspension on a lawyer who failed to communicate with a client on multiple occasions, failed to follow through to correct a sentencing order, and failed to respond to the Bar complaint (and had been admonished 5 previous times for similar misconduct).  The disciplinary case is: Lawyer Disciplinary Board v. Sullivan, No. 12-0005 (1/17/12).  The opinion is online at: http://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/docs/spring2013/12-0005.pdf.

According to the opinion, the lawyer was an assistant public defender and was appointed to represent a defendant in a criminal matter.  On December 7, 2009, the client/defendant entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to a 1-5 year term of imprisonment.  The circuit court did not enter the sentencing order until approximately nine months later.  Shortly after entry of the sentencing order, the client was informed by the West Virginia Division of Corrections that his parole eligibility, based on his sentencing order, would be October 1, 2011; however, the client believed that the sentencing order failed to accurately reflect his effective sentencing date, and that he was actually supposed to be parole eligible on April 11, 2011, almost six months earlier.

The client and members of his family contacted the lawyer and requested that he act to correct the sentencing order.  The lawyer promised that he would look into the issue; however, after receiving no response, the client and his family made repeated efforts to contact the lawyer, leaving messages at his office, and also leaving a message with one of his supervisors.  The lawyer never responded to the messages and the client then filed a disciplinary complaint against the lawyer.

The lawyer failed to respond to multiple communications from disciplinary counsel requesting a response to the complaint.  On December 15, 2011, disciplinary counsel filed a Statement of Charges alleging that the lawyer violated the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically, Rule 1.3, which requires a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client; Rule 1.4, which requires a lawyer to keep clients reasonably informed of the status of their matter and to promptly respond to reasonable requests for information, and to explain matters to clients to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation; and Rule 8.1(b), which makes it a violation of the Rules for a lawyer, in connection with a disciplinary proceeding, to knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information.

The Statement of Charges also listed several aggravating factors, including that the lawyer (1) had substantial experience in the practice of law, (2) had been admonished on five separate occasions by the ODC for similar conduct, (3) had demonstrated a pattern and practice of failing to adequately communicate with clients, and (4) had demonstrated a pattern and practice of failing to respond to lawful requests from the ODC.

The lawyer signed a stipulation admitting to the facts and violations and agreeing to a public reprimand.  The opinion rejected the stipulation and imposed a 30 day suspension noting that, at the time of his fifth admonishment, the lawyer “pledged to the [Office of Disciplinary Counsel], and to the Board, that he would be more diligent in representing his clients” but…the record shows that at the same time he was making this pledge, the Respondent was ignoring repeated requests from [this client and his family to take the action necessary to correct a facially inaccurate sentencing order…there is no evidence that a sixth admonishment, even in the heightened form of a public reprimand, would appropriately sanction the respondent attorney, or that it would serve as an effective deterrent to other members of the Bar or maintain public confidence in the ethical standards of the legal profession.  We do not believe that supervised probation alone will be sufficient to protect the public’s interest.”

Bottom line:  This lawyer was given multiple chances to improve his client communication skills and act with diligence but failed to do so.  He also failed to respond to the initially disciplinary complaint, which resulted in an additional violation of the Bar Rules.  He will now serve a 30 day suspension.  Please don’t go there…

…and be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, Communication with clients, joe corsmeier, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer lack of communication with client, Lawyer lack of diligence

Wisconsin Supreme Court imposes one year suspension on lawyer for greatly inflating his billable hours to qualify for almost $50,000.00 in law firm bonuses

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss recent Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion imposing a one year suspension a lawyer who inflated his billable hours to qualify for bonuses from his law firm.  The case is: In the Matter of Matthew C. Siderits, Case No. 2011AP259-D (1/4/13).  The opinion is online at: http://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=91260.

According to the disciplinary opinion, the lawyer’s law firm had a compensation system for shareholders which provided for a bonus if a shareholder’s billings exceeded 1,800 hours for the year.  The lawyers at the firm typically entered billable hours either by completing daily “time sheets” and having their assistants entered the billable hours into the firm’s computerized billing system or entering their billable time directly into the law firm’s billing system.  Toward the end of each calendar year, the shareholders met to review each shareholder’s billable hours as recorded in the firm’s billing system to determine whether the partner was likely to meet the 1,800 hour bonus target.

The firm’s billable time period ended at the end of December and the firm’s partnership then met to determine which partners were entitled to receive a bonus and the bonuses were paid after the beginning of the next year.  The disciplined lawyer was the firm’s treasurer and he reviewed each lawyer’s hourly compilation and signed off on the final distributions/bonuses.  In addition, as a shareholder, the lawyer participated in the meetings and in bonus distributions for each year.  The lawyer was a partner/shareholder from 2004 until he was terminated in 2009.

The lawyer recorded over 1,800 hours in 2007 and 2008 (1,803.3 hours in 2007 and 1806.3 hours in 2008) and he was paid a bonus of $23,451.12 in early 2008 for his 2007 billings and $23,526.92 in early 2009 for his 2008 billings.  After the firm paid the lawyer each of the bonuses, but before the bills were sent to the clients, the lawyer reduced, or “wrote-down,” his billable hours for those years.  In early 2008, the lawyer wrote-down 29.2 hours of time from his 2007 billings without notifying the firm, and the reductions caused his billable hours to drop 25 hours below the 1,800 level.  In early 2009, the lawyer wrote-down 231.9 hours from his 2008 billings, again without notifying the firm, which reduced his 2008 billable hours to below 1,600.  In 2009, the firm discovered the lawyer’s 2007 and 2008 billing conduct and terminated him.  His interest in the firm’s profit sharing plan was forfeited and he also repaid a total of $60,000 to compensate the firm for the bonuses which he did not earn and for other unspecified damages claimed by the firm.

The lawyer admitted at the disciplinary hearing before the referee that he did not actually bill 1,800 hours in either 2007 or 2008 and that he wrote-down about 29 hours in 2007 and about 230 hours in 2008.  He also admitted that he was not entitled to receive the bonuses in question, but claimed he did not know at the time that this would disqualify him from the bonuses.  He further admitted that he never told anyone else in the firm that he wrote-down his time for either 2007 or 2008 and that he entered all of the write-downs directly into the system so that neither his assistant nor the bookkeeper was aware of the write-downs.

The referee found that the lawyer violated rules related to all five counts of the alleged misconduct, including engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and breaching his fiduciary duty to his law firm and his duty of honesty in his professional dealings with it.  The referee also found in aggravation, a dishonest or selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct, and a refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct and, in mitigation: absence of a prior disciplinary record, a timely good faith effort to make restitution or to rectify the consequences of misconduct, a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary proceedings, and good character or reputation.  The referee recommended an 18-month suspension, did not comment on costs, and did not recommend restitution, because of the lawyer’s $60,000.00 payment to the firm.

In his report, the referee commented on the lawyer’s claim that he spent 140 hours writing a (17 page) brief: “(i)t is inconceivable to me that an experienced attorney could expect anyone to believe that he spent 140 hours on a relatively straightforward brief; especially since the matter had been fully briefed previously and the new brief was substantially based on the work of an associate.  His protestations to the contrary are simply not credible. Furthermore, his time on that brief was entered late in the year, at times one would not normally expect an attorney to be working on the brief, in large quantities, and entered days and weeks after the work was allegedly performed.  The same amounts were then routinely deleted following the end of the year, without following the normal procedure of deleting them on the paper pre-bills.  (The lawyer) entered the computer system himself, telling no one, and deleted all of the time that he entered.  The time he ultimately billed the client was within the realm of reason, and consistent with what two other attorneys testified should be the time for such a brief.  He never discussed with his partners any of the massive write downs that he did on Matter “A” (the 17 page brief).  The referee also found that this same pattern existed for lawyer’s other write-downs for 2008.

The disciplinary opinion upheld the referee’s findings and imposed a 12 month suspension stating:  “(t)his case does not turn on the bare fact that (the lawyer) wrote-down his time; this case is about (the lawyer) abusing his write-down discretion and lying to his law partners in order to collect almost $47,000 in bonuses to which he was not entitled.  (The lawyer) cannot seriously contend that firms must have a written policy forbidding stealing and lying before a misconduct charge for one of these actions can be sustained.  As to (the lawyer’s) ignorance-of-the-law defense, we emphatically reject it.  To allow an ignorance-of-the-law excuse in lawyer ethics cases would encourage and reward indifference to the ethics code and the cases interpreting it, a pernicious outcome.”

“In any event, the injunction against stealing from one’s own law firm is not an abstract one, and this court has stated it clearly and repeatedly…”(h)owever, given the unique circumstances of this case, and acknowledging that the imposition of discipline in attorney disciplinary cases is not an exact science, we believe that the recommended 18-month license suspension is not quite necessary.  We conclude that a 12-month license suspension is sufficient to advance the objectives of lawyer discipline.  This is so due to the number of mitigating factors that appear in the record.  (The lawyer) has no previous disciplinary history.  He lost his job with the Firm.  He paid $60,000 to the Firm to compensate for the bonuses to which he was not entitled and for other unspecified damages claimed by the Firm.  He forfeited his interest in the Firm’s profit sharing plan.  As explained below, these disciplinary proceedings have been costly to (the lawyer).  We are persuaded that, given these particular circumstances, (the lawyer) understands the seriousness with which this court views his conduct, and he will not likely repeat it.”

Bottom line:  This opinion makes it quite clear that a lawyer (at least in Wisconsin) will be subject to discipline for falsifying billable time to obtain a firm bonus, even if not clients are ultimately harmed and it doesn’t help if the lawyer makes apparently false statements to support his billings, including that he spent 140 hours on a 17 page brief…

…be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, deceit, joe corsmeier, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer false statements, Lawyer misrepresentation, Lawyer misrepresentations to law firm re billings, Lawyer sanctions

Dodd-Frank unlimited lawyer IOTA funds FDIC deposit insurance provision apparently was not renewed by Congress and expired on 12/31/12 and only trust funds up to $250,000.00 per client ledger will be insured

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog to advise everyone of the apparent expiration on December 31, 2012 of the Dodd-Frank Deposit FDIC Insurance provision which provided for the unlimited deposit insurance coverage for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTAs) which are called IOTA trust accounts in Florida.

The federal insurance will now only cover up to $250,000.00 per client ledger within the lawyer’s trust account.  An FAQ post from the FDIC website is here: http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/unlimited/expiration.html

Bottom line:  If this affects your practice and your IOTA trust account liability, you should plan accordingly.  You can also contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators regarding reinstatement of the deposit insurance coverage.

Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

 

 

 

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Filed under joe corsmeier, Lawyer trust accounts

Illinois Hearing Board recommends disbarment for former Florida lawyer convicted of Florida felony crimes and federal crimes of tampering with and threatening witnesses who were members of his family

Hello everyone!  Happy 2013 and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss recent Illinois Disciplinary Hearing Board Report and Recommendation that a lawyer be disbarred after his conviction of multiple Florida criminal acts and for his federal conviction for threatening one witness (his then wife) and tampering with another witness (his son) while he was incarcerated.  The case is In re Vincent J. Krocka, No. 6198080, Commission No. 06 CH 73 (12/31/12).  The opinion is available online at: http://www.iardc.org/HB_RB_Disp_Html.asp?id=10722.

According to the Illinois Board’s Report and Recommendation, a one-count disciplinary complaint was filed on October 5, 2006 charging the lawyer with committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer and failing to notify the Illinois disciplinary authorities of his conviction in writing within 30 days after the entry of the judgment of conviction.  On October 6, 2006, the lawyer was mailed a copy of the Complaint to Florida where he was incarcerated.  On October 24, 2006, a rule to show cause was issued to the lawyer which was enforced on December 14, 2006 and the lawyer was suspended from the practice of law, effective immediately and until further order of the Court.

On December 26, 2006, the lawyer filed an Answer to Complaint and a Motion to Stay the Proceeding and, on January 8, 2007, the proceedings were stayed pending the lawyer’s appeal of his conviction.  The stay was lifted on June 24, 2009 and the disciplinary authorities learned that the lawyer was convicted of subsequent criminal acts on March 6, 2009.  On July 22, 2009, a two-count First Amended Complaint was filed and the lawyer was served by regular mail. On August 4, 2009, the proceedings were again stayed until the lawyer’s appeal of the second conviction was completed.

On February 22, 2012, a Motion to Lift Stay Order was granted and, on April 24, 2012, the lawyer’s oral motion to reinstate the stay was denied.  An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for July 20, 2012; however, on June 18, 2012, the lawyer filed a Motion for Continuance, a Motion for Leave to Conduct Discovery, a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing and a Motion to Stay the Proceedings pending the Outcome of the his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.  On June 21, 2012, a pre-hearing conference was held in which the lawyer participated and the motions were denied.  A Motion to Deem the Allegations of the First Amended Complaint Admitted was filed, the hearing was continued, and the lawyer was given until July 12, 2012 to file an Answer to the First Amended Complaint.  At the June 21, 2012 pre-hearing conference, the lawyer also stated he did not intend to participate in the July 20, 2012 hearing.  The lawyer then failed to file an Answer to the First Amended Complaint or any motion to either stay or continue the hearing by July 12, 2012.  The Motion to Deem the Allegations of the First Amended Complaint Admitted was then granted.

Count 1 alleged that on April 5, 2004, the lawyer barricaded himself in his home in Florida with his two sons, one of whom was under the age of eighteen.  After law enforcement arrived, the lawyer fired a gun at least six times from a second-story window, almost hitting a law enforcement officer and damaging a police vehicle.  The lawyer prevented his sons from leaving his home; however, both eventually escaped the home unharmed.  On April 27, 2004, the lawyer was charged in a four-count information filed in the Florida Thirteenth Judicial Circuit  On April 19, 2006, after a jury trial, the lawyer was convicted on charges of child neglect and criminal mischief and was sentenced to five years in prison on each charge consecutively.  The lawyer’s appeal of the conviction was denied and he failed to notify the Illinois disciplinary authorities of the conviction on or before May 10, 2006 as required under Illinois disciplinary rules.

Count 2 alleged that between June 8, 2005 and June 2, 2008, while the lawyer was incarcerated pursuant to the Florida convictions, he wrote and mailed at least thirteen (13) letters to his then wife which contained threats and attempts to exhort her, and also made statements intended to prevent her from testifying against him.  The lawyer also wrote and mailed a letter to his son in which he attempted to persuade him to prevent his then wife from testifying against him.  On April 5, 2006, the lawyer was charged with the offenses of sending threatening mail and sending extortionate threatening mail, in violation federal law in a seventeen (17) count indictment filed in the United States Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, in a matter docketed.  On June 19, 2008, the lawyer was charged in a superseding indictment with twenty five (25) counts of sending threatening mail and sending extortionate threatening mail and witness tampering, in violation of federal law.

On March 6, 2009, following a jury trial, the lawyer was convicted of four counts of sending threatening mail, four counts of sending extortionate threatening mail, and six counts of witness tampering.  On the same day, March 6, 2009, the lawyer was sentenced to concurrent prison sentences of 60 months on Counts 5, 10, 11, and 15; 121 months on Counts 13, 14, 16, and 17; and 120 months imprisonment on Counts 20-25 and consecutive to the Florida sentence.  The lawyer was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release after the prison sentence with multiple conditions.  The lawyer’s appeal was denied and he failed to notify the Illinois disciplinary authorities of  the conviction on or before April 6, 2009 as required under Illinois disciplinary rules.

The allegations of the complaint were deemed admitted due to the lawyer’s failure to answer and the Report found clear and convincing evidence that the lawyer violated the Illinois disciplinary rules by committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois disciplinary rules (Counts I and II); engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois disciplinary rules (Counts I and II); and failing to notify the Administrator of his conviction in writing within 30 days after the entry of the judgment of conviction, in violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 761(a) (Counts I and II).

After being charged in Illinois in 2002 with falsifying a medical report he was required to complete in connection with his employment as a Chicago police officer; directing an obscene epithet toward an attorney representing the City of Chicago in litigation involving the lawyer; and making a death threat to another lawyer for the City in that same litigation matter, the lawyer filed a motion for disability inactive status and, on September 22, 2003, the Court granted the motion and transferred the lawyer to disability inactive status until further order of the Court.  On October 29, 2009, the lawyer was disbarred in Florida for the conduct which formed the basis for the state and federal convictions and the Illinois proceeding.  On October 21, 2010, the lawyer was disbarred in the District of Columbia for the conduct which formed the basis for the state and federal convictions and the Illinois proceeding.

With regard to discipline, the Board found that the lawyer “has a well-established pattern of making serious threats of bodily harm to others as well as an inability to adhere to the law. Finally, Respondent’s failure to participate in the disciplinary proceedings demonstrated a serious disregard for the disciplinary process. (citation omitted). Given the egregious nature of Respondent’s misconduct, along with aggravating evidence and analogous case-law, this panel believes that disbarment is necessary in order to protect the public.”

Bottom line:  This case involves some apparently very bizarre behavior by a lawyer who was licensed in Florida, Illinois, and D.C. and shows that the wheels of discipline, particularly, reciprocal discipline, may grind slowly.  The crimes prosecuted by the State of Florida occurred in 2004 and the lawyer was convicted on the felony charges in 2006 (and he was not convicted on the federal charges in March 2009 after being charged in 2006); however, he was not disbarred in Florida until October 2009, in D.C. in October 2010, and Illinois in 2013 (assuming that the Illinois Supreme Court upholds the Board’s Report and Recommendation).  Notwithstanding the length of the process, the lawyer has been suspended from practice in Illinois effective on December 14, 2006.

Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

 

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, joe corsmeier, Lawyer conduct adversely affecting fitness to practice, Lawyer criminal conduct, Lawyer disbarment, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Lawyer sanctions