April 1, 2022 Disciplinary Actions
The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 14 attorneys, disbarring four, suspending eight, reprimanding one, and revoking the licenses of one. One attorney was placed on probation.
Elizabeth Jayne Anderson, 1630 Bridgewater Drive, Lake Mary, suspended for three years retroactive to November 7, 2019, and suspended for 91 days to run consecutive to the three-year suspension, effective immediately following a March 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In case number SC18-1646, Anderson failed to maintain her seven law office trust accounts in compliance with the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, resulting in shortages in excess of $120,000. Anderson’s inadequate record-keeping practices and poor supervision of her staff created a situation where trust funds were deposited to wrong accounts and Anderson misused client trust funds. In case number SC19-1340, Anderson handled an initial consultation with one client of the law firm in which she was an independent contractor. Several months later, the client emailed Anderson for an update in her matter, believing that Anderson was her attorney. Anderson advised that the law firm had closed but promised to complete her matter. Anderson failed to tell the client of her emergency suspension, which precluded Anderson from providing the client with any further legal services. (Case Nos. SC18-1646 and SC19-1340)
Jorge Henrique Angulo, 5223 Park Blvd. N., Suite 101, Pinellas Park, suspended for six months effective 30 days following a March 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Angulo instructed his client in a criminal matter to lie to the court during the client’s sentencing hearing about Angulo’s guarantee to the client that he would receive a downward departure in sentencing. (Case No: SC21-1323)
Beatrice Bijoux, 300 SE 2nd St., Suite 600, Ft. Lauderdale, emergency suspended effective immediately following a March 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2016) Bijoux was charged on March 10 with four counts of Attempted First Degree Murder, one count of Aggravated Assault-Deadly Weapon (Third Degree Felony), and one count of High Speed or Wanton Fleeing (Second Degree Felony). (Case No. SC22-357)
Sheldon J. Burnett, 201 3rd St. S.W., Albuquerque, New Mexico, disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission effective 30 days following a March 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Burnett faces a four-count complaint pending before a referee alleging misappropriation and/or mishandling of trust funds. There are three additional matters pending at staff level alleging the passing of checks with intent to defraud, improper disbursal of trust funds, and failure to communicate all settlement offers to his client and/or that he was not honest with opposing counsel in regard to the settlement negotiations. (Case No: SC21-1714)
Arthur Benjamin Calvin, 14629 S.W. 104th St., Suite 245, Miami, suspended for 90 days and ethics school effective 30 days following a February 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Calvin represented a minor who had sustained grievous injuries in an automobile accident. Calvin entered into a settlement agreement prior to a guardianship being opened. Thereafter he did not timely comply with a court order and was found in contempt. He also improperly lent money to the minor’s mother due to their financial circumstances. (Case No: SC20-1696)
Phillip Timothy Howard, 3122 Mahan Dr., Suite 801, Tallahassee, disbarred effective 30 days following a March 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) Howard settled a worker’s compensation case for over $630,000 dollars. Howard was on probation for trust account violations at the time and did not have a trust account when he received the settlement check. He had the client sign a document purporting that the funds should not go into a trust account and should be managed by Howard at his discretion. The funds were deposited into Howard’s operating account. Howard took a loan of $200,000 from client, which was never repaid prior to the client’s death. He also paid himself a $56,000 lien reduction fee for negotiating the client’s hospital bills, even though the bills were paid off by charities and/or written off by the hospital prior to the settlement. In a second matter, Howard failed to move a client’s tobacco case along in a timely manner. Four years later, after the client’s health had deteriorated, Howard sought to take a deposition to preserve the client’s testimony. Howard fabricated errata sheets, which he had his client sign. The client died just days after the depositions concluded. Howard subsequently filed a probate case on behalf of the client’s widow. He failed to provide adequate representation or appear at a hearing scheduled by the court, resulting in a dismissal of the probate case. After the client terminated Howard, he attempted to hire another attorney to handle the probate case. He failed to inform that attorney that the case had been dismissed and that he had been terminated by the client. The two cases have been consolidated. (Case Nos: SC19-488 & SC19-1570)
Donald Nathan Jacobson, 555 S.E. 1st Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, emergency suspended effective immediately following a March 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Jacobson was arrested on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery causing bodily harm. Jacobson is currently incarcerated on a no bond status for causing/caused great public harm as a result of his acts of violence and the pending charges. (Case No: SC22-309)
Wendell Terry Locke, 8201 Peters Rd., Suite 1000, Plantation, suspended for one year effective 30 days following a March 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Locke was counsel for a plaintiff in a civil rights case in the United States District Court Middle District of Florida Orlando Division. During his representation, Locke acted vexatiously throughout the litigation, multiplying, and delaying the proceedings, and consistently alleging unfounded racial and other biased partiality on the part of opposing counsel and the judiciary. (Case No: SC19-1913)
George Edward Ollinger III, 100 Rialto Pl., Suite 700, Melbourne, disbarred effective immediately following a March 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Ollinger engaged in patterns of misconduct including misappropriating clients’ funds, commingling attorney and client funds, and engaging in conflicts of interest. Ollinger was emergency suspended by court order dated January 19, 2021, for causing great public harm. After the effective date of his emergency suspension, Ollinger continued practicing law, resulting in The Florida Bar filing contempt proceedings against him. The Supreme Court of Florida consolidated the two cases. (Case Nos: SC21-28 and SC21-959)
Daniel Martinez, Jr., 3565 Jupiter Blvd. SE, Suite 2, Palm Bay, public reprimand and two years of probation effective immediately following a March 3 court order, (Admitted to practice: 2015) Martinez took a medical leave of absence and failed to handle a client’s paternity case properly and communication was poor. When Martinez returned to work, he failed to ensure that the required filings had been done and the case was also not scheduled for mediation as required by court rule. Martinez missed a case management conference and failed to notify his client about the hearing. The court dismissed the paternity case due to Martinez’s neglect and lack of communication. Martinez did not notify the client of the dismissal and the client learned of the dismissal by checking the online docket. Two months later, Martinez filed a motion seeking to have the case reinstated but the court denied the motion, citing Martinez’s grossly negligent handling of the matter. (Case No: SC21-1755)
Hillel Ryder Smith, 6712 Kenwood Forest Lane, Chevy Chase, Maryland, suspended for 60 days effective immediately following a February 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Smith sent harassing email messages to two immigration judges and an attorney with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Miami. During the investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General, Smith initially denied sending the email messages, claiming his computer may have been hacked. When confronted with forensic evidence, Smith admitted to sending the emails and claimed that the recipients were former co-workers who had harassed and discriminated against him in the past. Smith initially avoided the Bar’s inquiries into this matter. (Case No: SC21-511)
Laurence Arnold Steel, P.O. Box 47493, St Petersburg, suspended for 60 days and attendance at Ethics School effective 30 days following a March 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Steel failed to act with diligence regarding a family law matter to which he was retained. Steel failed to timely file his Notice of Appearance, failed to review the client file, and failed to timely respond to motions and requests from the opposing party. Steel failed to keep the client reasonably apprised of the status of the matter. Steel was suffering from personal or emotional problems during the relevant period and refunded all fees and costs to the client. (Case No: SC21-1261)
Gregory Thomas Wilson, P.O. Box 1071, Panama City, disbarred effective nunc pro tunc to October 27, 2018, the date of his suspension following a January 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Wilson was felony suspended on October 27, 2018, for one felony count of possession of contraband at a county detention facility and a second count of misdemeanor perjury. (Case No: SC21-1567)
James Patrick Woods, 1416 E. Concord St., Orlando, permanently disbarred effective immediately following a March 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Woods received a disciplinary revocation from the practice of law with leave to seek readmission after five years by court order dated November 12, 2015. Woods subsequently violated the court’s order of disciplinary revocation by collecting funds from a client, by holding himself out as an attorney, and by failing to provide The Florida Bar with the mandatory quarterly reports as required by Rule 3-6.1(e). (Case No: SC21-1689)
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 110,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. 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. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.