The Florida Bar Disciplinary Actions, November 1, 2020
The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 11 attorneys, revoking the license of two, suspending six, and reprimanding two. Four attorneys were also placed on probation. 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.
Mary Catherine Bonner, 656 Johns Drive, Cleveland, Georgia, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following a September 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Bonner received a fee from an incarcerated prisoner to file an appeal in federal court. She did not file the appeal and was not a member in good standing of that court at the time the fee was received or anytime thereafter. The Florida Supreme Court found Bonner in contempt on June 22, 2020, with the imposed suspension effective within 30 days of that order for failing to respond to the Bar in the underlying matter. (Case No: SC20-1184)
Catherine Rose Faughnan, 12 Ardsley Road, Binghamton, New York, 91-day suspension effective 30 days following an August 31 court date. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Faughnan was held in contempt of the January 23, 2020, court’s order for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of her suspension. (Case No: SC20-1042)
Amy E. German, 9797 Leland Drive, Orlando, 91-day suspension with proof of rehabilitation required before reinstatement effective 30 days following a September 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) German was arrested on charges of driving while under the influence in November 2016. German pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of alcohol-related reckless driving and was sentenced to 12 months of probation with additional requirements imposed. German failed to comply fully with all terms of her probation and was adjudicated guilty of violating her probation, a second-degree misdemeanor, and was ordered to show proof within 90 days that she had completed the substance abuse treatment program, which she did. (Case No: SC19-2060)
Rodney Glenn Gregory, 3840 Crown Point Road, Suite B, Jacksonville, 60-day suspension with a three-year probation effective October 12 following a September 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Gregory did not keep required trust account records resulting in significant irregularities with the handling of trust funds. After a client alleged delay in payment of settlement funds, which was confirmed by the auditor’s findings, Gregory paid the client in full. There was no evidence of theft or fraud. Upon reinstatement, Gregory will be required to comply with all trust account rules and work with a CPA who will monitor, ensure, and certify his compliance. (Case No: SC20-589)
Charles Edward Hobbs II, 1469 Market St., Tallahassee, suspended for one year (retroactive to his 91-day suspension in case SC18-1234 effective July 8, 2020) effective immediately following a September 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Hobbs failed to adhere to the appellate rules of procedure in handling a client’s criminal appeal by failing to respond to several court orders, resulting in the dismissal of the client’s appeal. In two other cases, Hobbs failed to diligently handle matters and communicate with clients. In a fourth matter, Hobbs filed a notice of appeal in his client’s direct appeal from a judgment and sentence. Thereafter, his handling of the case resulted in the Court issuing an Order to Show Cause why the appeal should not be dismissed. After Hobbs failed to respond, the Court relieved him as counsel of record. (Case No: SC20-194)
John Stephen Lynch, P.O. Box 136, Bartow, probation for 60 days and the completion of three Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses effective immediately following a September 10, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Lynch failed to maintain effective communication while representing a client in a criminal appeal. (Case No: SC19-1158)
James M. Potts, Sr., 1141 S.E. 2 Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, suspended immediately following a September 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Potts failed to respond both to Bar inquiries and Supreme Court’s order to show cause. He is suspended until he fully responds in writing to the Bar inquiry, and until further order of the Court. (Case Nos: SC20-935 and SC20-231)
Marc John Randazza, 2764 Lake Sahara Drive, Suite 109, Las Vegas, Nevada, public reprimand followed by one year of probation, effective 30 days following a September 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Randazza began negotiating a retainer agreement with the company doing business under the name Oron while he was in negotiations against Oron. Randazza was found to have violated Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.8 Conflict of Interest. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on an order from the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Nevada. (Case No: SC19-188)
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Sean Patrick Sheppard, 110 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 1570, Ft. Lauderdale, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission effective immediately following a September 3 court order as Sheppard agreed to cease the practice of law by July 24. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Sheppard misappropriated trust funds from a client. (Case No: SC20-1064)
Marcus Raymond Spagnoletti, 401 Louisiana St., FL 8, Houston, Texas, public reprimand followed by probation until May 1, 2021, effective 30 days following a June 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) In two separate client matters, Spagnoletti failed to properly communicate with or advise his clients regarding their respective ongoing claims and cases involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and British Petroleum. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on an order from the State Bar of Texas, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel (Case No: SC19-1746)
Kenneth Eric Trent, 1598 NE 33 St., Ft. Lauderdale, suspended for two years effective 30 days following a September 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Trent disobeyed a bankruptcy judge’s order when he and his client were ordered to surrender the client’s property in state foreclosure court. Trent tried to dismiss the bankruptcy in an attempt to contravene the court’s order. In another matter, Trent filed a malpractice lawsuit but failed to serve the defendant. His lack of communication caused his client to lose her ability to sue because the statute of limitation expired on her claim. (Case No: SC19-342)
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 108,000 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.