Friday, March 17, 2006

Jailhouse Lawyers: The Story Continues

According to a Mar. 1, 2006 article in the Florida Times-Union, a Federal Court convicted attorney David Fleet in Oct. 2005 of "multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering and other charges" and U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers sentenced him this week to three years incarceration. The article states that Fleet is to report to prison on May 1, 2006.

Despite Fleet’s criminal conviction and sentencing, as of Apr. 15, 2006 The Florida Bar's online records show Fleet is still a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and licensed to practice law. He is with the law firm Fleet, Spencer, Martin & Kilpatrick, P.A. and the firm's web page states he practices in the areas of criminal defense and business and commercial litigation out of the its Destin office.

Six months after Fleet’s conviction on multiple fraud related offenses against clients and weeks after being sentenced to Federal prison, The Florida Bar continues to allow Fleet’s practice of law and representation of clients.

This is not an isolated case. A Feb. 4, 2006 article in the Miami Herald reports that attorney Samuel I. Burstyn was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison in a money-laundering case and ordered to permanently resign from The Florida Bar. According to the article, he entered a plea agreement back in Sept. 2005 and had already served seven months of his sentence.

The Florida Bar has plainly been well aware of Burstyn's conviction and sentencing according to a Feb. 6, 2006 posting on its web site. As of Mar. 3, 2006, Burstyn had already been incarcerated for seven months, yet The Florida Bar's online records still showed him as being a member in good standing and eligible to practice law.

The Florida Bar finally got around to taking at least some action. As of Mar. 17, 2006, The Florida Bar's online records have been changed to show Burstyn is now an “Other Affiliate” who is not currently eligible to practice law.

What about attorney David Fleet? When will The Florida Bar get around to addressing his status?

Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey R. Hill. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Governor Jeb Bush Not-So-Glad After All and Now Says Matter is Not Within His Jurisdiction

Unresponsiveness by Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist's office necessitated calling upon Governor Jeb Bush to look into selective enforcement of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, at least where politically well-connected law firms are concerned. See previous posts for additional details.

Governor Bush's office initially responded to my concerns by email dated Feb. 22, 2006 from Warren Davis of the Governor's Office of Citizens' Services. Davis stated, "Governor Bush is glad you took the time to share your perspective and asked me to respond on his behalf."

According to Davis, "Governor Bush wants to know how Floridians feel about the many critical issues we face, and promises to keep your ideas in mind as he forms policy for addressing these concerns."

Sadly, that email was followed by a Mar. 3, 2006 email from Rex T. Newman on behalf of Governor Bush's office stating,

"Although the Governor welcomes the opportunity to review your concerns, the Attorney General is a separated elected, cabinet-level position and outside of the jurisdiction of the Governor's Office."

Hmmm. If the matter is not within the jursidiction of The Florida Bar, the City of Jacksonville, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist or Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is responsible?

Is anybody regulating law firm fraud these days? If so, you have to wonder why there hasn't been a referral to the appropriate agency by the officials who have already been notified.

Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey R. Hill. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Jailhouse Lawyers?

According to a Mar. 1, 2006 article in the Florida Times-Union, a Federal Court convicted attorney David Fleet in Oct. 2005 of "multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering and other charges" and U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers sentenced him this week to three years incarceration. The article states that Fleet is to report to prison on May 1, 2006.

On Mar. 2, 2006, The Florida Bar's online records show Fleet is still a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and licensed to practice law. He is with the law firm Fleet, Spencer, Martin & Kilpatrick, P.A. and the firm's web page states he practices in the areas of criminal defense and business and commercial litigation out of the its Destin office.

Does this strike anyone beside me as being odd? How can The Florida Bar allow an attorney convicted four months ago of "multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering and other charges", and scheduled to report for a three year prison sentence, to continue practicing law?

This is not an isolated case. A Feb. 4, 2006 article in the Miami Herald reports that attorney Samuel I. Burstyn was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison in a money-laundering case and ordered to permanently resign from The Florida Bar. According to the article, he entered a plea agreement in Sept. 2005 and has already served seven months of his sentence. The Florida Bar is plainly well aware of Burstyn's conviction and sentencing according to a Feb. 6, 2006 posting on its web site. On Mar. 3, 2006, The Florida Bar's online records still showed Burstyn as being a member in good standing and eligible to practice law.

The Florida Bar's web site, states,

"The Florida Bar has an important role in the regulation of lawyer misconduct. A complaint of unprofessional conduct against a Florida Bar member is a serious matter. The processing and investigation of inquiries and complaints are a basic responsibility of the Bar as mandated by the Florida Supreme Court. The Bar seeks to protect the public from unethical lawyers."

Maybe The Florida Bar is waiting for someone to file formal inquiries or complaints with it as though the criminal convictions are not enough to prompt action. More likely, the lawyers may just be politically well-connected.

In any event, this gives new meaning to the term "jailhouse lawyers".

Copyright © 2006 by Jeffrey R. Hill. All rights reserved.


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