Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Expose Corrupt Attorneys - Expose Corrupt State Bars - Demand Justice

""Ordinary citizens, not lawyers, should run the disciplinary process. If a jury made up of non-lawyers is good enough to decide a murder case or a million dollar lawsuit, it's certainly capable of determining whether a lawyer has cheated a client."

"Lawyer discipline in Florida is controlled by five individuals, the Chief Branch Disciplinary Counsels of the five branch offices located in Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami.

Tallahassee Chief Branch Discipline Counsel: James N. Watson, Jr.
Tampa Chief Branch Discipline Counsel: Susan V. Bloemendaal
Orlando Chief Branch Discipline Counsel: Jan K. Wichrowski

Ft. Lauderdale Chief Branch Discipline Counsel: Adria E. Quintela
Miami Chief Branch Discipline Counsel: Arlene K. Sankel

John T. Berry is the Legal Division Director, and Kenneth Marvin is Director of Lawyer Regulation, but they too are essentially subservient to the five Chief Branch Disciplinary Counsels in matters of attorney discipline.

Bar presidents are rotating annual figureheads with little say in the discipline process. Executive Director John F. Harkness, Jr. keeps the bureaucracy moving. There are 52 members of the Board of Governors who formulate and adopt matters of policy. And of course a staff that performs the actual work of running the bar.

But the five Chief Branch Disciplinary Counsels hold the real power concerning lawyer misconduct. They are elected by the lawyers they regulate and essentially have a job for life if they keep their electorate happy.

They keep their electorate happy with lax oversight. In my view the cozy arrangement is a conflict of interest. Once a Chief Branch Disciplinary Counsel makes a decision, the rest of the bar usually supports the finding. "

"Lawyer discipline, when it occurs, generally falls into one of several categories.

1) The matter makes headlines and cannot be overlooked, such as financial or sex crimes where law enforcement is involved.

Examples include Miami lawyer Lewis B. Freeman who plead guilty in a $2.6 million embezzlement scheme, Sarasota lawyer John Yanchek who pled guilty in a $83 million loan fraud scam, Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein’s ponzi scheme, or former US Attorney JD Roy Atchison, who hung himself while in custody after his arrest in a child sex-for-sale sting operaton.

2) The lawyer fails to respond to an inquiry. The Bar hates to be ignored. Those who ignore the Bar are sternly admonished. So long as the lawyer responds to a complaint, the Bar will usually accept most any excuse from the lawyer and the inquiry likely closed with a finding of no probable cause.

3) The lawyer becomes a political liability to the Bar.

One such lawyer was John Bruce "Jack" Thompson known as an activist against violence and sex in video games. Thompson was disbarred March 20, 2008. He was also a vocal critic of the bar.

4) Some misconduct that does not fit the above catagories is disciplined, but it is few and far between, and most likely involves lawyers who are in the out-group without connections.

The current system is arbitrary and not likely to change.

As one Tampa lawyer explained to me, it is important to report misconduct, and perhaps on the twentieth complaint against a lawyer for repeat bad behavior the Bar will act. This is a violation of the public trust, reflects discredit upon lawyer discipline, and suggests partiality in the consideration of complaints."

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