Lawyer Disbarred Over Theft From Clients
The client-lawyer relationship should be one built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. When we get into any kind of legal trouble that could result in jail, fines, or a lawsuit, we call our lawyer to help us resolve those problems. Of course lawyers get paid for their work, but as a society we expect lawyers to have high standards in their personal and professional ethics.
When a client opens up to a lawyer about their legal troubles, they are put in a very vulnerable situation. That is why lawyers have to be professional and trustworthy. Unfortunately for a set of clients in Indiana, their lawyer was not as trustworthy or professional as expected, and as a result was disbarred by that state’s Supreme Court.
What Happened In This Case
The facts of this case read like the script from an outlandish legal sitcom, but there was nothing funny in how the script actually played out. The lawyer in question was accused of violating 16 rules of professional conduct. Allegedly, the man stole money from his clients, lied to them, and even brandished a handgun as he fired his office manager.
In total, the now ex-lawyer is accused of stealing over $150,000 from his clients. To facilitate this theft, the man engaged in several illegal practices. Reportedly he would charge his clients an initial fee of $2,500 to $3,500, which he put in his client-trust account. Then he would overbill his clients, refuse to give money back that he did not earn, and take some of the money for his personal gain.
Beyond stealing from his clients, he was also accused of several deceptive practices. The official report accused the man of incentivizing clients to write good reviews on his Avvo.com profile, and if a past client tried to write a bad review he would disclose personal, hurtful information about them. What resulted in all of this was a toxic and horrible client-attorney atmosphere that ultimately ended up in his disbarment.
Florida Debarment Procedures
Like Indiana, Florida has procedures that come from the Florida Supreme Court on how to discipline attorneys that go afoul of professional rules of conduct. As professionals licensed to practice law, attorneys have a set of rules of professional conduct they are bound to obey. If they break those rules, the Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation will investigate and recommend action on reports of rule violation. Then the Florida Supreme Court can hand down discipline in a number of ways – from suspension for a limited time to full out disbarment.
Regulation in this way is important for several reasons. For our system of justice to operate properly, lawyers must know that there are severely negative consequences for breaking the rules and law. Additionally, clients have to know that their attorneys are kept to a high standard, and know that if a lawyer trips up, there is a system in place to make it right.
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Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss your criminal case, or any other legal predicament you find yourself in. He has offices located in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and is prepared to put his 27 years of experience to work for you.