Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court approved findings of misconduct made by the Hearing Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (Hearing Panel) concerning Circuit Judge Barbara Kaye Hobbs, found Judge Hobbs guilty to as to one additional violation, and imposed the Hearing Panel's recommended discipline, in addition to ordering Judge Hobbs to pay a fine.The Hearing Panel found Judge Hobbs guilty of the three charges for which she had conceded guilt and one additional charge. The Panel recommended that Judge Hobbs be publicly reprimanded, suspended from office without pay for sixty days, and compelled to attend an employee management program. The Supreme Court accepted the Hearing Panel's findings as to all charges and found, in addition, the Supreme Court held that Judge Hobbs failed properly to supervise her judicial assistant. The Court further added a fine to the Hearing Panel's discipline recommendation and ordered that Judge Hobbs pay a fine in the amount of $30,000. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Hobbs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered into by Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) that Judge Bryson be publicly reprimanded, suspended without pay for ten days, and pay a $37,500 fine, concluding that Judge Bryson acted inappropriately by failing to devote full time to her judicial duties.The JQC found that Judge Bryson was absent from the courthouse beyond the permitted number of days for judicial leave, failed to make appropriate notifications of some absences to appropriate court management, and was sometimes in the courthouse for less than a full workday. Judge Bryson admitted her conduct in the stipulation, and the JQC found that Judge Bryson's actions violated Canons 3A and 3B(4) for the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation of the parties and ordered that Judge Bryson be publicly reprimanded and pay a $37,500 fine. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Marni A. Bryson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court granted the petition of The Florida Bar to enjoin Respondents, TIKD Services, LLC and Christopher Riley (collectively TIKD) from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, holding that TIKD was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and was permanently enjoined from engaging in such acts in the future.The Bar filed a two-count petition against TIKD alleging that it engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and that it held itself out to the public as qualified to provide legal services. The referee filed a report recommending that the Supreme Court dismiss the Bar's petition with prejudice, concluding that TIKD was not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The Supreme Court disapproved of the referee's recommendation and ordered that TIKD was permanently and perpetually enjoined from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in the State. View "Florida Bar v. TIKD Services LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered into by Judge Richard Howard of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) that Judge Howard should be publicly reprimanded because he acted in appropriately.Judge Howard attempted to dissuade a judicial candidate from running against an incumbent judge and attempted to persuade the candidate either to run against a different incumbent judge or to forgo the campaign altogether. The JQC concluded that Judge Howard's conduct violated Canon 7A(1)(b). Judge Howard conceded that his conduct was improper. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered by the parties but declined to endorse the conclusion that judge Haward's conduct involved endorsing and opposing candidates for office in violation of Canon 7A(1)(b). View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Richard Howard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court approved a stipulation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Scott Cupp agreeing to the discipline of a public reprimand, holding that a public reprimand was appropriate.In the stipulation, Judge Cupp admitted to violating Canons of Judicial Conduct 1, 2B, and 7B(1)(b) and damaged the integrity of the judiciary by creating the appliance that he was interceding in a judicial election. Judge Cupp also admitted to violating Canon 7 and Fla. Stat. Chapter 106 during his 2020 reelection campaign and that his conduct damaged the public's perception of the judiciary. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation and ordered Judge Cupp to appear before the Supreme Court for the administration of a public reprimand. View "In re Judge Scott Cupp" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court held that the conduct of Judge David Craig Miller of the Eleventh Judicial Court violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and that the appropriate discipline was a public reprimand, concluding that the findings of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) were supported by clear and convincing evidence.In its findings and recommendation of discipline, the JQC found that Judge Miller violated Canons 1, 2A, and 3B(4) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The JQC then recommended a public reprimand. In a stipulation, Judge Miller admitted to the alleged conduct, conceded that the conducts violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, and accepted the JQC's findings and recommendation of discipline. The Supreme Court approved the stipulation entered into by Judge Miller and the JQC and reprimanded Judge Miller for his misconduct. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge David Craig Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court reviewed the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) concerning five judges (Respondents) and approved the stipulated discipline entered into between Respondents and the JQC, holding that the JQC's findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence.The JQC Investigative Panel served a notice of formal charges on Respondents for violating Canons 1, 2, and 4 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. Thereafter, the JQC and Respondents entered into a stipulation wherein Respondents admitted their wrongdoing and agreed that the alleged violations were demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence. The parties further stipulated to the recommended discipline in the form of a written public reprimand. The Supreme Court agreed with the JQC's findings of fact approved the stipulated discipline of a written reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning a Judge No. 18-572" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court approved the recommended sanctions of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) concerning misconduct by Judge Robin C. Lemonidis of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, accepted a stipulation entered into by Judge Lemonidis and the JQC, and commanded Judge Lemonidis to appear before the Court for the administration of a public reprimand.This case arose from Judge Lemonidis's conduct in two incidents that occurred in two unrelated proceedings. The JQC charged Judge Lemonidis with violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and proposed that a public reprimand and continued participation in stress management counseling were appropriate sanctions. The parties executed a stipulation, in which Judge Lemonidis admitted to the conduct and accepted the recommended discipline. The Supreme Court concluded that the JQC's findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and approved the JQC's recommended discipline and the parties' stipulation. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Robin C. Lemonidis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the findings and recommendation of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) concerning misconduct by Judge Ernest Kollra of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and a stipulation entered into by Judge Kollra and the JQC, approved the parties' stipulation, and commanded Judge Kollra to appear before the Court for the administration of a public reprimand.The parties entered into a stipulation that Judge Kollra improperly introduced partisan political activity into his campaign for judicial office, that Judge Kollra's conduct violated two canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and that the appropriate discipline was a public reprimand. The Supreme Court concluded that the JQC's findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and approved the stipulation, holding that the appropriate discipline in this case was a public reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Ernest A. Kollra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Supreme Court affirmed the stipulation entered into between Judge Dennis Daniel Bailey and the Judicial Qualifications Commission that stipulated that Judge Bailey violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and should be publicly reprimanded and commanded Judge Bailey to appear before the Court for the administration of a public reprimand.Based on the judge's conduct in a certain trial, the commission charged Judge Bailey with violating canons 1, 2A, 3B(1), 3B(4), and 3B(7) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The commission found probable cause for the violations and recommended that Judge Bailey be publicly reprimanded. Judge Bailey stipulated that he did not contest the commission's findings and accepted the recommended discipline. The Supreme Court agreed with the commission's findings and Judge Bailey's admissions and ordered that Judge Bailey appear for the administration of a public reprimand. View "Inquiry Concerning a Judge Dennis Daniel Bailey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics