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 11 attorneys, disbarring three, revoking the licenses of one, suspending one and reprimanding six. One attorney was also ordered to pay restitution and two were given probation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
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 more than 107,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.
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 includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam.
Rasheed Karim Allen, 189 S. Orange Ave., Suite 1530-B, Orlando, publicly reprimanded, and ordered to pay restitution of $9,600, effective immediately following an Oct. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Allen is also ordered to attend ethics school. In two cases, Allen did not diligently handle client matters and did not adequately communicate with them regarding their cases. In another matter, Allen did not clearly communicate with the client regarding the goals of representation. (Case No. SC18-2110)
Kevin Christopher Ambler, 400 N. Tampa St. Suite 1100, Tampa, publicly reprimanded, effective immediately by an Aug. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Ambler, in representing clients in federal court, was negligent and failed to comply with a court order regarding discovery and made disparaging comments in rebuttal to opposing counsel’s allegation of committing fraud upon the court. (Case No. SC18-1100)
Scott C. Dupont, P.O. Box 4184, St. Augustine, suspended for 91 days with proof of rehabilitation required for reinstatement effective 30 days from an Oct. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) While a judge, Dupont engaged in multiple judicial campaign violations while running for re-election. Based upon information obtained from internet searches and without corroborating it, Dupont disseminated defamatory and inaccurate allegations about his opponent and his opponent’s family. (Case No. SC19-1243)
Michael David Fender, 620 Maitland Ave., Altamonte Springs, disbarred effective immediately following an Oct. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Fender abandoned his law practice, neglected various client matters, lacked competence, failed to maintain adequate client communication, failed to earn his fees, and failed to return documentation to his clients. Fender also failed to respond to the Bar’s investigative inquiries and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No. SC19-628)
Bryan Jay Glick, 54 SW 2nd Ave., Boca Raton, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately, following an Oct. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Glick misappropriated settlement funds held in trust; used unrelated funds to satisfy a trust fund liability; made misrepresentations to The Florida Bar in response to the Bar’s investigation; and failed to produce and maintain required trust accounting documents and other required records. (Case No. SC19-1357)
Darylaine G. Hernandez, 10967 Lake Underhill Road, Suite 143, Orlando, public reprimand by publication, effective immediately by an Oct. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Hernandez represented an injured party. The client and her prior legal counsel signed a Letter of Protection (LOP) with two medical providers. The client’s case settled at mediation, and following the client’s wishes, Hernandez disbursed the settlement proceeds without paying a company that had acquired the client’s medical bills. Hernandez did not sign the LOPs but knew, or should have known, that her client and the client’s prior attorney had signed them and that a provider was claiming a portion of the settlement proceeds. (Case No. SC19-1612)
Michael Winston Lanier, 4846 Cardinal Blvd., Jacksonville, disbarred, effective 30 days from an Oct. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) In the first of three combined cases, Lanier’s direct mail advertisement did not comply with required rules. In a second case, following a trial initiated by the FTC, Lanier was shown to have engaged in numerous acts of solicitation to represent clients by creating a false network of out-of-state attorneys to serve out-of-state clients. Non-lawyers were running the business and Lanier attempted a cover-up by creating numerous fictitious entities designed to hide the true nature of his operation. In a third case, Lanier allowed a roofer to sign up clients for him in a scheme similar to the FTC case and for which he had been previously disciplined. (Case No. SC18-186).
Christina D’Amato Miller, 1012 E. Silver Spring Blvd., Suite B-8, Ocala, public reprimand by publication effective immediately by Oct. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Beginning in early 2019, The Florida Bar received several complaints alleging that Miller’s law office had neglected client matters and failed to adequately communicate with clients. The complaints coincided with misconduct by Miller’s non-lawyer assistant. Miller proactively contacted clients to make restitution and attempt to rectify the matter. (Case No. SC19-1613)
Robert William Morris, 1199 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, public reprimand and a two-year probationary period with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. effective immediately following an Oct. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Morris was arrested for Driving While Under the Influence. In June, he entered a plea of no contest to reckless driving, alcohol-related. The judge withheld adjudication and sentenced Morris to one year of probation with conditions. (Case No. SC19-1609)
Christopher Hart Morrison, 401 W. Fairbanks Ave., Suite 100, Winter Park, public reprimand by publication, and a two-year probationary period, effective immediately, following an Oct. 10 court order. Morrison is also ordered to attend a Trust Accounting Workshop. (Admitted to practice: 1990) After receiving notification of insufficient funds in Morrison’s trust account, The Bar initiated an audit that revealed numerous technical trust account violations as well as shortages caused by Morrison’s law partner. The partner was responsible for handling the firm’s administrative and financial affairs, and Morrison was unaware of the shortages until the Bar’s involvement. (Case No. SC19-1242)
Mark P. Stopa, 447 3rd Ave N., Suite 405, St. Petersburg, permanently disbarred, effective immediately following a Sept. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Stopa engaged in numerous acts of misconduct including filing meritless motions to quash service of process in foreclosure cases to delay the cases; engaged in disrespectful and aggressive behavior toward members of the judiciary; failed to appear at scheduled court hearings; failed to communicate with his clients; settled clients’ cases without authorization; engaged in fraud, and knowingly allowed a client to provide false testimony at trial. (Case Nos. SC16-1727, SC17-1428 and SC18-1197)