SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES EIGHT ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued Oct. 4 – Nov. 21, 2018
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 eight attorneys – disbarring two, suspending five, and publicly reprimanding one. Two attorneys were also placed on probation.
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 106,000 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. Additional 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.
Jeremy W. Alters, 277 Ocean Blvd., Golden Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Alters engaged in dishonest conduct by misusing client funds. He violated Bar Rules governing the safekeeping of property and the application of trust funds or property to specific purposes. (Case No. SC14-100)
Elizabeth Jayne Anderson, 800 North Magnolia Ave., Suite 1500, Orlando, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an Oct. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Anderson appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client trust funds and neglecting client matters. While representing a homeowners’ association, Anderson had a shortage of $37,000 in her trust account. She used the client trust funds for her own benefit or the benefit of her law firm, and she failed to maintain minimum required trust account records. (Case No. SC18-1646)
Richard Brian Carey, 1801 Indian Road, Suite 103, West Palm Beach, suspended for 10 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Carey failed to properly review a file before his title company handled a property closing. It resulted in the improper transfer of the title. (Case No: SC18-1786)
John Edward Eagen, P.O. Box 1545, Tallahassee, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Eagen failed to timely pay restitution ordered in a previous disciplinary matter. On Jan. 23, 2017, he failed to appear in court for a scheduled hearing. Instead, Eagen contacted the judicial assistant and requested a continuance. After learning that he was ineligible to practice law, the judge asked several times if he needed to inform the court about anything, and Eagen declined each time. He only admitted his ineligible status after being directly asked by the judge. (Case No: SC18-807)
LaTonia Denise Jackson, P.O. Box 261153, Miami, suspended for 90 days and placed on probation for two years, effective 30 days from a Nov. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Jackson was negligent in managing her trust account and supervising a nonlawyer employee while working as a title and settlement agent. As a result, trust account records were not properly maintained. (Case No. SC18-1720)
Curtis Dee Mendenhall, 820 N. Thornton Ave., Orlando, to be publicly reprimanded following a Nov. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Further, Mendenhall is placed on probation for one year. Mendenhall was court-appointed to represent a client in a criminal case. During the course of representation, he sent inappropriate, flirtatious text messages to the client’s girlfriend. The client brought the messages to the attention of the court, and the court subsequently removed Mendenhall as counsel. (Case No. SC18-1708)
Rolando Enrique Rodriguez, 6550 N. Wickham Road, Suite 1, Melbourne, disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) Rodriguez closed his law office without notice, abandoned his clients’ pending legal matters and failed to protect his clients’ interests. He also failed to refund unearned fees and unexpended costs. In one matter, Rodriguez provided a falsified order to mislead the client into believing he was working on his immigration case. (Case No. SC18-632)
Adam Seif, 10288 Yonge St., Unit 3, Ontario, Canada; suspended for six months, effective 30 days from Nov. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Seif’s business relationship with a non-lawyer employee resulted in a six-month suspension for violating Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada. This is a reciprocal discipline action, based on an employee’s misconduct while at Seif’s firm, and his failure to supervise. Seif hired the man, who claimed to have a law degree from Florida, to work on immigration matters. He never requested credentials or a background check, and subsequently learned that the employee was neither a paralegal nor a lawyer, and he had a criminal record. After leaving the firm, the nonlawyer employee went to prison for stealing more than $5,000 from Seif. (Case No: SC18-1173)
EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and “Association” is not part of our name. Proper reference is “The Florida Bar.” Local bar organizations are properly termed “associations.”