Tom Appeals Blog

News and Observations About Law and Society

"As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule." - Albert Einstein

Incivility Yields Two Year Suspension

Posted: March 6, 2014 Filed under: Commentary, Law-Related News

THIS article for the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the ABA’s Section of Litigation uses recent decisions by the Supreme Court of Florida to illustrate how lapses in professionalism — which were once thought to be gauche but not punishable — are increasingly providing the basis for disciplinary action. Lawyers work too hard to earn the privilege of practicing law to lose it as a consequence of being a cad.

I have represented and assisted lawyers facing investigation and discipline. The process is neither enjoyable nor quick. It can also be expensive. So, if bar disciplinary counsel knock on your door in Florida or Kansas, let’s talk.

Florida Supreme Court Punts to Legislature

Posted: March 6, 2014 Filed under: Case Law

Today, the Supreme Court of Florida unanimously ruled that applicants seeking admission to The Florida Bar must “demonstrate that they are legally present in the United States” and that unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for admission. The court grounded its ruling in federal law.

In a concurring opinion, two justices emphasized that “the Florida Legislature is in the unique position to act on this integral policy question and remedy the inequities that the unfortunate decision of this Court will bring to bear.” Justice Jorge Labarga, himself an immigrant, compared his family’s escape from a communist regime to the bar applicant’s escape from poverty, then wrote that he could not justify the distinctions between the two families insofar as admission to The Florida Bar is concerned. Still, Justice Labarga reluctantly concurred with the other justices because existing federal and state law required him to do so.

The case is Florida Board of Bar Examiners Re: Question as to Whether Undocumented Immigrants are Eligible for Admission to The Florida Bar.

Admitted: Florida, Kansas, New Mexico (inactive)