Florida - PROFESSIONALISM
Third DCA criticizes conduct of counsel who willfully violated pretrial order excluding evidence. [Added 12/21/19]
Insured sued Insurer after coverage was denied. Insured’s house had been damaged by an explosion in a “marijuana grow house” across the street. Insured filed a motion in limine seeking to admit into evidence a letter from Insurer that allegedly admitted that the explosion caused damage. The trial court denied the motion. Nevertheless, at trial Insured’s counsel “directly referenced the letter in front of the jury.” Insurer objected, and Insured’s counsel then asked for the question to “be read back to the jury a second time before the objection was sustained.” (Emphasis by court.)
Insured moved for a mistrial. During the hearing on the mistrial motion, Insured’s counsel “admitted to willfully asking the question and argued that the question was fair game since the letter itself was not coming into evidence.” The court denied the mistrial motion. Insured appealed.
The Third DCA affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion. The court then addressed the conduct of Insurer’s counsel, stating that it was “troubled by Plaintiffs’ counsel’s blatant disregard of a court order, and we write to remind counsel that as an officer of the court, it is a lawyer’s duty to, among other things, ‘demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it’ and to ‘uphold legal process.’ R. Regulating Fla. Bar 4, Preamble; see also Visoly v. Sec. Pac. Credit Corp., 768 So.2d 482, 492 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (‘The privilege to practice law requires attorneys to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the administration of justice. While counsel does have an obligation to be faithful to their clients’ lawful objectives, that obligation cannot be used to justify unprofessional conduct by elevating the perceived duty of zealous representation over all other duties.’).” Citizens Property Ins. Co. v. Ballester, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D16-1427, 11/29/2018), 2018 WL 6205021.
Third DCA sanctions and criticizes lawyer for impugning integrity of judiciary and filing frivolous motion. [Added 12/10/18]
The Third DCA issued an order directing Lawyer to show cause why the court should not impose sanctions on him for filings that violated the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Aquasol Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 2018 WL 5733627 (Fla. 3d DCA, Oct. 31, 2018). After reviewing his response, the court determined that good cause had not been shown, and so imposed sanctions.
Lawyer violated Rule 4-8.2(a) by impugning the character and integrity of the trial court and the judges of the Third DCA. Pointing out that the applicable standard under this rule is “not whether the statement is false, but whether [Lawyer] had an objectively reasonably factual basis for making the statement.” The court concluded that there was no objectively reasonably factual basis for the statements Lawyer made in his motions for rehearing and rehearing en banc. Further, the court found that Lawyer filed a frivolous motion in violation of Fla.R.App.P. 9.410(a).
Despite acknowledging that Lawyer accepted responsibility and expressed remorse, the court emphasized the “extraordinary and corrosive nature or [Lawyer’s] attach on the integrity of the trial court and this court” and imposed the sanction of attorney’s fees in an amount not to exceed $5000 and referred him to the Florida Bar. “[Lawyer’s] conduct in the instant case violated not only the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Rules of Appellate Procedure, but the most elementary norms of civility and professionalism. While judges and attorneys over the course of their career are subjected to isolated instances of incivility, the instant misconduct is beyond the pale, different not simply in degree but in kind. It is egregious misconduct which can be neither excused nor ignored.”
The court explained: “We are ever-mindful that, as a self-regulated profession, we must strive to maintain the public’s confidence in the independence and integrity of the judicial branch. We must also ensure that members of the Florida Bar comply with the rules of conduct, civility and professionalism that regulate our profession.”
Finally, in a footnote the court concluded that Lawyer had violated his duty of candor to the court under Rule 4-3.3(a)(3) “by failing to disclose to this court, in either his amended initial brief or reply brief (or by notice of supplemental authority) controlling law adverse to his position,” but chose not to sanction him for that violation. Aquasol Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D17-352, 12/5/2018), 2018 WL 6326238.
Third DCA orders appellants’ counsel to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for “what appears to be a blatant, material misrepresentation” of record. [Added 10/29/18]
Clients and Lawyer appealed a trial court order imposing sanctions against them (50% for Clients, 50% for Lawyer). The sanctions had been imposed because appellants had “persisted in asserting a defense that they knew or should have known was not supported by fact or law.” The Fifth DCA affirmed because the appellants “failed to preserve the issue for appeal, as they entered into a stipulated final judgment which set forth the entitlement to and amount of the sanctions that were imposed.”
The appeals court further ordered Lawyer to show cause within 10 days why it should not sanction him “for making what appears to be a blatant, material misrepresentation in his brief regarding the trial court’s findings on the sanctions motion.” Lawyer’s brief expressly stated that the trial court had failed to make a specific finding that Clients or Lawyer knew or should have known that the claim was unsupported. The Fifth DCA, however, noted that the sanctions order explicitly contained such a finding. The appellate court continued: “Appellants’ misstatement . . . was quoted and described as being ‘patently false’ and ‘outrageous’ in Appellee’s answer brief, which laid out the same passages from the trial court’s order that we referenced. [Lawyer] seemingly passed on what most would have taken as an opportunity to set the record straight, as he chose not to file a reply brief or otherwise correct that misstatement.” Roberts v. PNC Bank, N.A., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D17-2840, 10/19/2018), 2018 WL 5090843.
Conviction reversed because court impermissibly permitted prosecution to suggest that defense counsel influenced victim to change story between incident and trial. [Added 9/24/18]
Victim was a convenience store clerk. He was robbed by Defendant, who pulled an object from under his shirt and brandished it at Victim. A video camera recorded the incident. Victim told the police that the object was a knife. During the ride in the police car to the station after he was arrested, Defendant referred to the object as a knife. At trial, however, Victim testified that the object appeared to be more like a spatula. The prosecutor asked Victim how many times he had talked to defense counsel since the robbery. Defense counsel’s objection was overruled after the prosecutor explained that he asking for impeachment purposes. The prosecutor also asked whether Defendant’s mother had come to the store to talk with Victim. During closing argument the prosecutor argued that Victim had changed his story after talking with defense counsel. Defendant was convicted.
Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the prosecutor to repeatedly suggest through his questioning of [Victim] that defense counsel had somehow pressured or persuaded [Victim] to change his story and further abused its discretion by then allowing the prosecutor to reiterate that suggestion during closing argument.”
The Second DCA agreed and reversed. “‘Generally, comments by the State implying that the defense tampered with a witness without evidentiary support constitute reversible error.’ Penalver v. State, 926 So.2d 1118, 1129 (Fla. 2006).” It was improper under Penalver for the trial court to permit the prosecutor to impeach Victim by establishing that Victim’s “story had ‘suddenly’ changed after [Victim] had met with defense counsel.” The trial court then “compounded the error by allowing the prosecutor to exploit this improper line of questioning during rebuttal closing argument.”
The appeals court ruled that these errors were not harmless. Among other things, the argument “not only impermissibly impugned defense counsel’s integrity but went so far as to imply that defense counsel had committed witness tampering.” Taylor v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D16-5268, 9/21/2018), 2018 WL 4517227.
Third DCA affirms denial of anti-stalking injunction sought by one lawyer against another, determining that allegations presented professionalism issues best addressed under Florida Bar disciplinary system. [Added 8/22/18]
Lawyer Raulerson petitioned for an injunction against another lawyer, Font, for alleged stalking. The trial court dismissed the petition. Raulerson appealed. The Third DCA affirmed, concluding that the allegations in the petition primarily involve conduct that was outside the scope of the applicable statutes and “present certain issues best addressed under the disciplinary framework established by the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.”
The appeals court observed that more than 90% of the allegations “are related to unprofessional conduct in litigation by Mr. Font.” Raulerson’s petition itself acknowledged that much of the complained-of conduct violated Rules of Professional Conduct 4-3.1 (frivolous claims or defenses), 4-3.2 (dilatory practices), and 4-3.4(d) (frivolous discovery requests). The court noted that “[t]ypical hallmarks of stalking and cyberstalking simply are not present,” and so indicated that the issues were more properly brought to the Bar or the trial court in which the unprofessional conduct occurred. While expressing sympathy for the petitioner’s position, the court commented that many of the actions alleged in the petition would require reporting to the Bar under Rule 4-8.3 and also stated: “It is also true that an attorney relatively new to the practice of law and high-conflict litigation (though the very term, when used as a reference to conduct between counsel rather than parties, is inimical to professional practice) should develop a ‘thick skin,’ but such an attorney is also entitled to refer improper conduct by opposing counsel to the Bar and, in a particular case, to the presiding judge. The trial court was correct that these would be a forum for determination of a lot of what you would like me to decide based on your pleadings.’” (Footnote omitted.)
The court, however, rejected the respondent’s argument that the relief sought in the petition was barred by the litigation privilege. “No Florida case has held, nor do we, that the litigation privilege applies to conduct otherwise meeting the definitional requirements of stalking or cyberstalking – any more than the litigation privilege bars an action for a battery committed by one attorney against another in the course of a legal proceeding. A privilege against defamation claims is not a privilege to cause substantial emotional distress for ‘no legitimate purpose’ or to threaten the safety of opposing counsel.” Raulerson v. Font, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D17-2370, 8/1/2018) 2018 WL 3636525.
Fourth DCA reverses plaintiff’s judgment due to improper arguments. [Added 8/1/18]
Plaintiff sued Insurer for alleged breach of contract and obtained a judgment. Insurer appealed, contending that the trial court erred in denying its motion for new trial that was made on the ground that Plaintiff engaged in improper argument. The Fourth DCA reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Insurer asserted that during opening statement and closing argument Plaintiff had improperly emphasized Plaintiff’s payment of premiums. The appeals court agreed, noting that “it was improper for counsel to emphasize [Plaintiff]’s payment of premiums in this manner because the length of time that [Plaintiff] his premiums was irrelevant to whether [Insurer] breached its policy when it denied his claims.” Insurer pointed to 3 instances in which its objections to such comments were overruled. The appeals court concluded that these 3 preserved instances “while improper, arguably do not alone demonstrate that [Plainitff]’s long relationship with [Insured] became a centerpiece of the trial. (Emphasis by court.)
Plaintiff, however, also improperly implied that Insurer acted in bad faith in handling his claims. “[I]mplications of bad faith should not form a basis to determine liability in a first party insurance coverage action.” (Citations omitted.)
Adding to these improper arguments were comments by Plaintiff that improperly denigrated Insurer’s defenses. “[A]rguments which denigrate an opponent’s defenses by implying they are pretextual are improper.” (Citations omitted.) Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Kuwas, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D17-2383, 7/5/2018), 2018 WL 3301890.
Fourth DCA reverses conviction because of prosecutor’s improper argument. [Added 7/11/18]
Defendant was convicted of grand theft. He appealed, contending that the prosecution’s improper arguments required reversal. In closing argument, the prosecutor implied that mere presence at the scene of a crime was sufficient to support a conviction, and the court erroneously refused to give Defendant’s requested instruction on “mere presence.” Additionally, the prosecutor referenced facts not in evidence and made several comments reflecting negatively on Defendant’s right to a jury trial.
Stating that “we cannot conclude that the cumulative effect of all of the comments were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt,” the Fourth DCA reversed the conviction.
The appeals court criticized the improper arguments: “While we do not hold that the prosecutor’s comments constituted a structural defect in the trial, we condemn the prosecutor’s pervasive use of [Defendant]’s ‘refusal to take responsibility’ by going to trial. Such comments denigrate the fundamental principles of the right to jury trial and presumption of innocence. When the prosecutor plans the entire theory of the case around attacking these principles, the defendant is denied a fair trial.” Gabriel v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D17-1363, 6/27/2018), 2018 WL 3198551.
Third DCA affirms conviction despite prosecution’s improper argument denigrating defense. [Added 5/31/18]
Defendant was convicted of armed manslaughter. He appealed, arguing that the prosecution denigrated his defense during the rebuttal closing argument. Defendant contended that the state’s improperly commented on defense counsel’s attack on the voluntariness of his confession when it called defense counsel’s actions a good lawyering tactic.
The Third DCA affirmed. Although the appeals court “tend[ed] to agree that suggesting counsel’s defense theory was a good lawyering tactic was improper,” the court concluded that “any error was harmless in that it did not contribute to the verdict.” The comment was isolated; there were two confessions given, and the argument did not impact the second confession or the other “overwhelming evidence” in the case; the jury was properly instructed to disregard the remark; and the jury obviously “was not swayed by the state’s comment given its lesser-included offense verdict.” Lammons v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D16-1864, 5/9/2018), 2018 WL 2122397.
$8 million judgment reversed because of improper closing arguments by plaintiff’s counsel. [Added 5/25/18]
Decedent was killed in an auto accident involving a driver who was delivering pizza for a Domino’s franchise. Plaintiff, the personal representative of Decedent’s estate, sued Domino’s and others. The jury rendered a verdict against Domino’s. Domino’s moved for a directed verdict, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or new trial, arguing that “certain objected-to and unobjected-to comments made by [Plantiff’s] counsel in closing argument warranted a new trial.” Many of the arguments related to Plaintiff’s theme “that Domino’s business model and its defense of this case was a ‘greedy charade’ designed to control the activities of its franchisees to maximize profits, while contending that it lacked sufficient control of its franchisee’s activities to avoid vicarious liability.” The trial court denied the motions. Domino’s appealed.
The Fifth DCA reversed the judgment against Domino’s based on the various improper arguments by Plaintiff’s counsel. The appeals court summarized: “[I]t was improper for [Plaintiff’s] counsel to suggest in closing argument that Domino’s agency defense was a ‘greedy charade.’ That argument disparaged the manner in which Domino’s defended this case – a type of argument that is unfailingly condemned by the courts. . . . It was also improper for [Plaintiff’s] counsel to advise the jury to ‘tell [Domino’s] what you think’ about its agency defense because doing so was clearly a “send a message” argument. . . . It was equally improper for [Plaintiff’s] counsel to argue that Domino’s abandoned Mr. Kidd [the delivery driver], when he knew full well it was not true. Similarly, [Plaintiff’s] attorney made improper golden rule and personal opinion arguments, which encouraged the jurors to decide the case on the basis of personal interest rather than on the evidence. . . . Even when viewed in context, these improper comments were numerous, leaving us to conclude that the argument was not designed to ‘prompt a ‘logical analysis of the evidence in light of the applicable law.’’ . . . While only some of the comments were properly preserved for our review, in evaluating the errors, we consider ‘the cumulative effect’ of both preserved and unpreserved error. . . . Having done so, we are unable to conclude that the errors, taken together, were harmless. . . . We, therefore, reverse the final judgment based on the improper closing argument.” (Citations omitted.) Domino’s Pizza, LLC v. Wiederhold, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D16-2794, 5/11/2018), 2018 WL 2165224.
Fourth DCA reverses conviction due to prosecution’s improper closing argument. [Added 5/21/18]
Defendant was charged with crimes involving a child victim. While in jail he talked by phone to his wife (the victim’s grandmother) in a recorded call. At trial the prosecution commented on Defendant’s “silence” on certain issues during the call with his wife. Defense counsel objected on the ground that the argument was improper burden shifting. The trial court overruled the objection. Defendant was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
On appeal Defendant asserted that the trial court erred in overruling his objection to the argument. Agreeing, the Fourth DCA reversed the conviction. The appeals court commented: “We are compelled to once again remind prosecutors and defendants alike that improper closing argument has no place in the lexicon of criminal court trials and is, with a nominal amount of reflection and trial preparation, easy to avoid.” The court then discussed relevant case law in order to provide counsel with a “refresher.” The court concluded that “the prosecutor’s argument was both an impermissible comment on silence and a burden-shifting comment, with either one being egregious and obviously improper.”
Additionally, the court pointed out that “the first conviction in this case was reversed and also based on the admission of yet another portion of the recorded jail phone calls where the defendant and his wife discussed retaining an attorney, which we held to be a clearly improper attempt to focus the jury on another impermissible factor: the defendant’s exercise of his right to counsel.” The same lawyer acted as prosecutor in both trials. Lenz v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D17-198, 4/25/2018), 2018 WL 1956322.
Fourth DCA sanctions lawyer and client for pursuing frivolous appeal. [Added 1/11/18]
Appellant, the father of a minor child, entered into a custody agreement with an extended family member in 2012. The agreement resulted from a petition filed in Broward County. In 2016, Appellant filed a complaint in Palm Beach County seeking relief from the agreed custody order. The trial court dismissed the complaint, and the Fourth DCA affirmed.
The Fourth DCA issued an order to show cause why Appellant and his counsel should not be sanctioned for prosecuting a frivolous appeal. Appellant responded unsatisfactorily. The appellate court concluded that, for several reasons, the appeal was “completely without merit.” Appellant’s attempt to seek relief from the Broward County order under Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.540 by alleging fraud was untimely; any such filing must be made within one year, and Appellant’s filing was more than 4 years after entry of the order. Further, Appellant sought relief in the wrong court; “a party cannot rely on Rule 1.540 to seek relief from an order issued by a different court.” Finally, Appellant’s attempt to cast his filing as an independent action for fraud on the court was ineffective; that argument was “explicitly rejected in Florida Evergreen [Foliage v. E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co., 336 F.Supp.2d 1239 (S.D. Fla. 2004)], where the court concluded a claim for fraud on the court, whether an independent action or pursuant to Rule 1.540(b), must be brought in the court where the fraud was purportedly committed.”
The court summarized: “The Appellant has had multiple opportunities to raise the issues presented in his complaint to the Broward Circuit Court and, in fact, has done so. His attempt at filing a new lawsuit in a different circuit, after those prior attempts were rejected and while other new attempts still remain pending in the Broward Circuit Court, is completely devoid of merit. Therefore, we grant the Appellee’s motion for appellate attorney’s fees, and sanction the Appellant and his counsel.” Manzaro v. D’Alessandro, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D16-3951, 11/1/2017), 2017 WL 4990586.
Despite affirming substantial verdict in tobacco case, Third DCA criticizes argument by Plaintiff’s counsel as “ill-conceived and improper." [Added 12/4/17]
Plaintiff recovered a substantial verdict, including punitive damages, against 2 tobacco company defendants in an Engle-progeny case. Defendants appealed on several grounds, including improper argument.
During closing argument at trial Plaintiff’s counsel “made several arguments that Defendants characterize as improper and in violation of the trial court’s in limine ruling prohibiting certain types of arguments.” Defendants classified the arguments as improper “Golden Rule” arguments. The Third DCA did not agree with they were Golden Rule arguments, but pointed out that “[t]his does not end the analysis because, whether or not these arguments constituted a Golden Rule violation, we find that they nevertheless were ill-conceived and improper. Although it is evident that Plaintiff’s counsel was attempting to illustrate the practical limitations of our civil justice system by arguing to the jury that no monetary award – regardless of the amount – would suffice to give Roland [the husband of the deceased smoker] what he truly wanted, the argument was presented in an overly-dramatic manner such that it could evoke the jury’s sympathy. We have expressed in prior opinions the impropriety of similar arguments.” (Citations omitted.)
Nevertheless, the appeals court affirmed. Two of the 3 arguments comments were not preserved and did not rise to the level of fundamental error. The third argument was objected to, but the objection was sustained and no curative instruction was requested. The trial court did not abuse its discretion. Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Ledoux, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D16-675, 10/18/2017), 2017 WL 4654965.
Supreme Court changes the name of its Commission on Professionalism by adding “civility.” [Added 10/12/17]
In an order dated October 9, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court changed the name of what has been known as the Commission on Professionalism. The text of the order provides: “The Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism was created by administrative order on July 19, 1996. The Commission’s mission is to promote the fundamental ideals and values of justice within the legal system, and to instill those ideals of character, civility, competence, and commitment in all those persons serving therein. In accordance with a recommendation by the Commission and in order to more fully and accurately describe the scope of its important work, the Commission shall henceforth be known as the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility.” In re: Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility (Fla., Admin. Order No. AOSC17-89, 10/9/2017).
Closing argument suggesting that whether defendant was lying was test for guilt is criticized, but conviction is affirmed because error was not preserved. [Added 9/1/17]
During the closing argument of Defendant’s criminal trial, the prosecutor engaged in argument that allegedly “constituted improper burden-shifting because they asked the jury to determine who was lying as the test for deciding if [Defendant] was guilty.” Defense counsel failed to properly object. Defendant was convicted.
On appeal Defendant raised the issue of improper argument. The Fourth DCA agreed that the arguments “were inappropriate and thus error.” The error was not preserved due to insufficient objections, however, and the court was constrained to affirm. The court sent a message to deter this type of conduct in the future: “We remind prosecutors again to refrain from arguments such as those in the instant case.” Simbert v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D16-1633, 8/23/2017), 2017 WL 3616394.
In affirming despite apparently improper closing argument that was not objected to, Fifth DCA emphasizes that it did not condone argument. [Added 8/21/17]
Plaintiff prevailed in a jury trial in an auto accident case. Defendant contended on appeal, inter alia, that he should have been granted a new trial due to improper closing argument by Plaintiff’s counsel. The Fifth DCA affirmed on this ground, noting that Defendant had failed to object.
In a footnote, the appeals court made it clear that it did not approve of the arguments: “We emphasize that our affirmance on this issue should not be interpreted as condoning plaintiff’s counsel’s conduct in his closing argument. Rather, we find that the several unobjected-to comments do not rise to the level of egregiousness warranting a new trial as outlined by the Florida Supreme Court in Murphy v. International Robotic Systems, Inc., 766 So.2d 1010, 1031 (Fla. 2000).” Rasinski v. McCoy, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D15-4423, 8/4/2017), 2017 WL 3318712.
In reversing substantial plaintiff’s verdict on other grounds, Fourth DCA expresses concern about comments made by plaintiff’s counsel during opening and closing arguments. [Added 7/27/17]
Plaintiff sued Defendant for alleged negligence. The jury returned a $3.6 million net verdict for Plaintiff, but the Fourth DCA reversed on the ground that the trial court erred in not directing a verdict for Defendant on the issue of negligence.
In view of its reversal on other grounds, the appeals court did not reach another asserted error relating to the trial court’s failure to grant a mistrial due to allegedly impermissible arguments by plaintiff’s counsel during opening and closing. The court, however, made it clear that it was not condoning such arguments.
“[W]e express our concern regarding several of the comments made by the plaintiff’s counsel during opening and closing arguments, and caution against their future use. The plaintiff’s counsel stated during opening that, ‘the reason why we are in this courtroom today is that this corporation has refused to accept any responsibility for its role in this death.’ After the trial court correctly sustained objections to this statement, the plaintiff’s lawyer doubled down, stating, ‘[t]hey will look at everyone else’s conduct but their own. And these are defenses that are just attempts to avoid responsibility.’ As the Third District Court of Appeal has declared, ‘[t]he law is clear that it is improper for an attorney to disparage an opposing party’s defense of a case or to suggest that a party should be punished for contesting a claim.’ . . . We recently reaffirmed this principle. . . . We thus find it inexplicable that counsel would so wantonly make statements opening the door for a mistrial, both in these statements made during opening, as well as in the ‘value of human life’ comments made during closing.” (Citations omitted.) Las Olas Holding Co. v. Demella, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D16-231, 7/29/2017), 2017 WL 3085329.
Second DCA removes lawyer from case and refers him to Florida Bar for failing to comply with court orders and attendant delays. [Added 7/20/17]
Lawyer filed a notice of appeal in the Second DCA, but failed to pay the filing fee. The court issued 3 orders, to which Lawyer did not respond. After a show cause hearing following the court clerk’s refusal to make an indigency determination due to a deficiency in the application, the court denied a motion to allow Lawyer’s client to proceed as indigent. Lawyer was directed by the court to “expeditiously seek review of the clerk’s action and, if necessary, to seek appellate review. Lawyer did not respond.
Following further orders and inaction by Lawyer, the Second DCA set another show cause hearing. Lawyer “was unable to adequately explain his failure to comply” with the court’s orders. As a result, the court removed him from further representation in the appeal. Additionally, due to Lawyer’s “to comply with this court's directives and the attendant delays,” the court referred Lawyer to the Florida Bar “for investigation and initiation of such proceedings as may be appropriate.” Odhiambo v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D15-3506, 6/16/2017), 2017 WL 2615845.
Prosecutor’s comments during closing argument may have been “ill-advised” but did not warrant reversal. [Added 6/29/17]
Criminal Defendant was convicted. On appeal he asserted that the prosecutor made multiple impermissible arguments. “These statements include argument by the State that to accept the Defendant’s theory, you had to conclude that the officer ‘not only got all of that wrong, but so did the victims,’ that the officer ‘was completely wrong in his entire testimony of this case,’ and that the officer ‘completely made up his turn of events.’ The State also noted during its closing argument that the Defendant is a ‘three-time convicted felon who’s also been convicted of lying, giving a false statement.’ Finally, the State argued to the jury ‘that [this crime] was committed by someone who thinks that they can get away with anything.’”
The Fourth DCA affirmed, distinguishing the cases relied upon by Defendant. “[T]o the extent the Defendant challenges the State’s reference to his prior conviction, the Defendant himself testified about his prior convictions during this trial. No new facts were introduced during closing as they were in Ruiz [v. State, 743 So.2d 1 (Fla. 1999)]. Further, the comments in Ruiz, Gore [v. State, 719 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 1998)], and Crew [v. State, 146 So.3d 101 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014)], as described by our supreme court, crossed the line of acceptable advocacy by a wide margin. In this case the prosecutor’s comments were perhaps ill-advised but did not reach that line.” Thompson v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-1466, 5/31/2017), 2017 WL 2350142.
Third DCA cautions prosecutors and judges regarding arguments asking jury to “do justice” for victim, but affirms because improper comments were not objected to. [Added 6/7/17]
Defendant was convicted of sexual activity with a child by a person in familial or custodial authority. On appeal he argued, inter alia, that the prosecutor improperly appealed to the jury’s sympathy for the victim during closing argument. Defense counsel did not object to the argument in question.
The Third DCA noted that the “do justice” type of arguments “have been uniformly condemned.” The court affirmed, however, because the offending arguments were not objected to and did not constitute fundamental error. The court went on to warn prosecutors: “[W]e caution prosecutors that these arguments must cease and remind opposing counsel and trial courts to be more vigilant in objecting to and precluding such arguments in the future. See Capron v. State, 948 So.2d 954, 956-57 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007) (finding that fundamental error in closing argument only ‘occurs when the prejudicial conduct, in its collective import, is so extensive that its influence pervades the trial, gravely impairing a calm and dispassionate consideration of the evidence and the merits by the jury’); see also Chandler v. State, 702 So.2d 186, 191 n.5 (Fla. 1997) (‘The prosecutor’s comment[s] . . . about Chandler and his counsel were thoughtless and petty, e.g., counsel engaged in ‘cowardly’ and ‘despicable’ conduct and Chandler was ‘malevolent . . . a brutal rapist and conscienceless murderer,’ but not so prejudicial as to vitiate the entire trial.’) (second omission in original).” Scott v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-2882, 5/3/2017), 2017 WL 1718804.
Third DCA affirms conviction despite improper closing arguments that were not objected to, but emphasizes that affirmance does not make prosecutor’s misconduct “awful but lawful.” [Added 4/24/17]
The Third DCA affirmed a conviction, concluding that the prosecutor’s improper closing arguments to which defense counsel did not object did not rise to the level of fundamental error. The court noted that when considering whether fundamental error occurred the analysis “must focus primarily on the prejudicial impact of the ‘message’ rather than on the unprofessionalism of the ‘messenger.’”
The court stated, however, that “we find it necessary to write to address once again another instance in which improper comments have been made by a prosecutor in the course of closing argument. In doing so, we wish to emphasize to counsel that our affirmance of the convictions in no way validates such misconduct nor somehow renders it merely ‘awful but lawful.’”
The court detailed the improper “Golden Rule” and “miscarriage of justice” arguments. The court concluded by lamenting the continued problem with unprofessional closing argument. “The concerns we express here are not new. Sadly, our appellate courts have for decades expressed consternation over the recurring misconduct of attorneys during closing arguments. . . . That such misconduct persists, despite these clarion calls, deepens our disquiet. The fact that the prosecutor’s misconduct has weathered the storm of our direct review, while certainly not beside the point, is also clearly not the entire point. We remind all attorneys of their solemn oath and their ethical obligation to the court, the justice system, and to the individuals and entities they represent. And, in particular, we remind prosecutors of the special obligation that accompanies their position . . .” Sampson v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-1662, 3/15/2017), 2017 WL 1018514.
After reversing convictions for other reasons, Third DCA comments on improper closing arguments by prosecution to prevent recurrence at retrial. [Added 4/17/17]
The Third DCA reversed two defendants’ convictions because of the “unintelligible condition” of the record. In remanding for a new trial, the court addressed “some of the improper comments made by the State during its closing argument, to ensure as best we can that such improper arguments are not repeated.”
The “most egregious” of the improper arguments concerned the prosecutor’s comments that the prosecutor was bound by an oath of truth while defense counsel was not. This argument “attacks and denigrates defense counsel, implying at the very least that defense counsel is not acting in good faith, and suggesting at the very worst that defense counsel lied to the jury – and that defense counsel was free to do so because he is not bound by the same obligation and professional oath as the prosecutor.”
The court also pointed out “that the prosecutor compared appellants to bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, and to Willy Sutton (described by the prosecutor as a ‘famous bank robber’ in the 1920’s and 1930’s).” Additionally, the prosecutor told the jury that defense counsel was “blowing smoke in your face.”
The court concluded: “We do not seek to temper the prosecutor’s evident zeal, but only to ensure that such zeal is confined to the clear boundaries demarked by the evidence, the reasonable inferences therefrom, and the law applicable to the case. See Murphy v. Intern. Robotic Sys., Inc., 766 So.2d 1010, 1029 (Fla. 2000) (observing that the case law and the rules of professional conduct are ‘in place to ensure that juries render verdicts based on record evidence and applicable law, not based on impermissible matters interjected by counsel during closing argument.’) See alsoR. Regulating Fla. Bar 4-3.4(e) (providing: ‘A lawyer must not: . . . e) in trial, state a personal opinion about the credibility of a witness unless the statement is authorized by current rule or case law, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused.’)” Scala v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, Nos. 3D111-1979, 3D11-1754, 3D11-1675, 3/15/2017), 2017 WL 1018487.
Prosecutor did not commit fundamental error by comparing criminal defendant and his co-defendants to “a pack of wolves” in closing argument. [Added 4/3/17]
Defendant was convicted of first degree murder. On appeal he argued that the prosecution committed fundamental error during its closing argument by comparing him and his co-defendants to “a pack of wolves.”
The First DCA affirmed. Courts have frequently found arguments that refer to defendants as animals to be improper. “But it is not enough for Williams to argue the comments were improper. He did not object below, meaning his burden now is to show the comments rose to the level of fundamental error. . . . In some instances, a prosecutor’s argument can be so prejudicial that a court will find fundamental error and award a new trial. . . . But a single, isolated reference to a “pack of wolves” is not enough to meet this daunting standard.” (Citations omitted.) Williams v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D16-1807, 3/27/2017), 2017 WL1134817.
Fifth DCA criticizes filing of motion for rehearing that was “inappropriate and meritless.” [Added 3/27/17]
After losing an appeal, Appellees filed a motion for rehearing. The Fifth DCA denied the motion, calling it “inappropriate and meritless.” The motion did what Fla.R.App.P. proscribes, which is re-arguing the merits of the case. The court pointed out that a motion for rehearing “is not a vehicle for counsel or the party to continue its attempts at advocacy.” (Citation omitted.) Appellees also “misuse[d] their motion by essentially seeking leave to amend their pleadings post-judgment and post-appeal.” Boardwalk at Daytona Development, LLC v. Paspalakis, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D15-1944, 2/24/2017), 2017 WL 727671.
Fifth DCA reverses conviction and refers prosecutor to Florida Bar and local Professionalism Panel for “flood” of improper arguments that was so “deep, wide, and unrelenting” it “made a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial.” [Added 3/7/17]
Defendant was convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation. He argued on appeal that he was denied a fair trial due to “egregious” improper argument by the prosecutor. Despite the fact that the improper argument was “compounded by defense counsel’s unexplained failure to object,” the Fifth DCA reversed.
Among the improper arguments made by the prosecutor were: referring to Defendant as a “pedophile” 7 times; using a “justice for the victim” closing argument; misstating evidence; calling Defendant a “liar;” “making nationalistic appeals to what sexual information the people of the United States do not want five year olds to have;” and ridiculing Defendant’s position with sarcasm. The court was critical of the prosecutor’s conduct, stating: “As we have stated for decades, we expect and require prosecutors, as representatives of the State, to refrain from engaging in inflammatory and abusive arguments, to maintain their objectivity, and to behave in a professional manner.” (Citation omitted.) The cumulative effect of the prosecutorial misconduct was fundamental error.
The court cautioned all participants in the criminal trial process: “Since there must be a retrial, we advise the attorneys who will prosecute and defend to carefully read our opinion and the many important cases which we have cited so that there will be no doubt where admirable advocacy ends and inappropriate, unfair closing argument begins. Armed with that knowledge, the prosecutor can zealously pursue justice, avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and dispense with a meaningful discussion with the Florida Bar or a local professionalism panel. Likewise, well informed defense counsel will be positioned to effectively advocate for Appellant by contemporaneously objecting to any perceived inappropriate arguments. Further, we note that trial courts have a duty, even without hearing any objection, to bring a swift and sure end to prosecutorial misconduct in closing argument, especially when it becomes as frequent and flagrant as in this trial.”
The court closed by referring the prosecutor to the Bar and the Professionalism Panel for further action. “[W]e also have a duty to take appropriate action concerning what we perceive to be several clear departures from professionalism and possible ethical violations on the part of the prosecutor. See Fla. Code of Jud. Conduct, Canon 3D(2); R. Regulating Fla. Bar 4–3.4(c), 4–3.4(e), & 4–3.5(a). If this argument had taken place in our court, we might have been able to take appropriate action by determining whether the prosecutor’s lapse in professionalism was intentional and deserving of some sanction or whether it would be better addressed by a strong rebuke from this court accompanied by directions for the prosecutor to become well educated on proper closing argument. However, we did not have that opportunity to directly address the attorney or the conduct. Accordingly, the action we take is to order the clerk of this court to provide the Florida Bar with a copy of this opinion, a copy of the trial transcript, and a letter identifying the attorney who prosecuted this case on behalf of the State at the trial court level, so that the Bar or on its referral, the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s Local Professionalism Panel, can decide how best to address this lawyer and the unfortunate conduct.” Rodriguez v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D15-3622, 2/10/2017), 2017 WL 548649.
Third DCA criticizes prosecutor’s closing argument as unprofessional and calls for remedial actions by prosecutor’s office, but affirms conviction. [Added 3/4/17]
During closing argument the prosecutor engaged in improper argument, calling the trial a “circus” and telling the jury not to rely on what defense counsel said because counsel had “misrepresented the facts” and “fabricated” the defense. Defendant was convicted and appealed.
The Third DCA reversed. Defense counsel’s objections should have been sustained and curative instructions given. The court criticized the prosecutor’s conduct: “The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, local codes of professionalism, and the reported decisions of all six state appellate courts in Florida demand a higher standard.” Noting that “[t]his is not a new problem,” the court suggested remedial measures: “Although the State Attorney’s Office prosecutes these cases, the regional office of the Attorney General of Florida is required to handle any resulting appeals. One imagines that improper argument of this kind might diminish if the prosecutor who created the issue at trial was required to research and write the appellee’s brief, and then argue the appeal here. In-service trainings between the two offices might also mitigate the problem.” (Footnote omitted.)
Despite the objectionable arguments, the court concluded that they did not constitute reversible error and affirmed. Mora v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-1434, 2/15/2017), 2017 WL 608287.
First DCA reverses $16 million verdict in tobacco case because plaintiff’s counsel exhibited “flagrant disregard for the bounds of proper argument.” [Added 3/2/17]
The First DCA reversed an almost $17 million verdict because, in closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel crossed the boundaries of proper argument “repeatedly, flagrantly, and often in defiance of the trial court’s admonishments.” The offending argument generally related to the defendant tobacco company’s “alleged failure to accept responsibility and admit wrongdoing.” It is improper to suggest to a jury that a defendant acts improperly by defending itself at trial or contesting damages. The appeals court noted that the arguments in question were “substantively identical to the comments condemned in” Cohen v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 203 So.3d 942 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), where a $2 million plaintiff’s verdict was reversed.
Among other things, plaintiff’s counsel “denigrated Reynolds as an unrepentant, anti-military, criminal predator, whom the jury must fight and destroy.” (Footnotes omitted.)
Although not all of the improper arguments were objected to by defense counsel, the “cumulative effect of preserved and unpreserved improper comments” was considered by the court. The court concluded that “[t]he depth and pervasiveness of these improper arguments compel reversal of this case for new trial.” R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Robinson, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D15-0989, 2/24/2017), 2017 WL 729818.
First DCA warns lawyers that strict compliance with court orders is expected and violations will not be tolerated. [Added 1/30/17]
Lawyer represented the employer/carrier in a workers’ compensation case. Lawyer obtained a 10-day extension in which to file the initial brief. The new due date was June 27. Despite that, Lawyer filed the brief on June 30. Along with the brief, Lawyer filed a motion to accept the brief as timely, but “offered no credible explanation” for violating the court’s order.
The court cautioned counsel not to engage in similar behavior: “This opinion shall serve as a reminder to all members of the Florida Bar that professional conduct and strict compliance with the orders of this Court are not only expected but are mandatory. As detailed in the ‘Notice to Attorneys and Parties’ issued June 27, 2014, extensions to file a brief served after the time has expired for serving the brief will generally not be granted absent a showing of good cause. The violation occurring here will not be tolerated in the future.” (Footnote omitted.) DHL Express, Inc. v. Machin, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D16-1325, 1/10/2017), 2017 WL 89067.
Although prosecution made multiple “questionable comments” that read like a “primer for prosecutors entitled ‘What Not to Say During Closing Argument,’” conviction was affirmed because comments failed to rise to level of fundamental error. [Added 1/18/17]
Criminal Defendant was convicted. On appeal he argued that the State committed fundamental error in closing argument. The Fourth DCA noted that the prosecutor made several “questionable comments,” defense counsel objected to only one. Consequently, the other comments were reviewed to see if they rose to the level of fundamental error. The court concluded that they did not, and affirmed.
The appeals court stated that the transcript of the closing argument “reads like a primer for prosecutors entitled, ‘What Not to Say During Closing Argument’” (quoting from Augustine v. State, 143 So.3d 940, 941 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014), where it made the same observation about defense counsel’s argument). The court expressed its concern about “the over-the-top nature of these closing arguments,” which “(1) appealed to the jury’s emotions, (2) improperly bolstered its argument, (3) constituted personal opinion, and (4) misstated the jury’s obligation to find Appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Robinson v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-4270, 1/4/2017), 2017 WL 33709.
Third DCA refers lawyer to Local Professionalism Panel as sanction for improperly abandoning appeal. [Added 10/24/16]
Lawyer and his clients failed to timely file an initial brief, failed to obey an order to file the order being appealed, and failed to obey an order to file a brief. Consequently, the case was dismissed and the Third DCA ordered Lawyer to show cause why he should not be sanctioned.
Lawyer responded that his clients decided to abandon the appeal and his failure to notify the court and opposing counsel was a “simple oversight.” The court did not accept this explanation, especially since other cases filed by Lawyer “have been dismissed by this court for either the failure to file an initial brief or failure to pay filing fees.” The court viewed Lawyer’s conduct as a violation of Rule 4-1.3 (diligence) and ordered a copy of its opinion sent to the Local Professionalism Panel for the Eleventh Circuit.
“In 2013, the Florida Supreme Court, acting on the recommendation of the Florida Commission on Professionalism, ordered each of Florida’s judicial circuits to set up a local professionalism panel – under an administrative order from each circuit’s chief judge – to handle professionalism complaints and address attorney conduct – such as the conduct described herein – which may not rise to the level of an allegation that could result in disciplinary action for unprofessional conduct. We conclude that referral of Appellants’ counsel, Lawrence J. Shapiro, Esquire (FBN: 796085), of Lawrence J. Shapiro & Associates, P.A., to The Eleventh Circuit’s Local Professionalism Panel is the proper course of action.” Nocari Investment, LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D16-1333, 10/19/2016), 2016 WL 6092069.
On rehearing en banc, Fourth DCA reverses $70 million judgment against tobacco defendants due to “repeated inflammatory arguments of plaintiff’s counsel.” [Added 10/3/16] -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Calloway, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D12-3337, 9/23/2016) (on rehearing), 2016 WL 5404053.
Fourth DCA affirms order granting defendants’ motion for new trial for in tobacco case after $2 million jury verdict, due to improper closing argument. [Added 9/26/16] -- Cohen v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D13-2681, 9/7/2016), 2016 WL 4649570.
Third DCA criticizes conduct of lawyer who was taken out of courtroom for interrupting the court and speaking out of turn during dependency proceeding. [Added 9/8/16] -- J.C.O. v. Dept. of Children and Families, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D16-320, 8/24/2016), 2016 WL 4468112.
In reversing $11 million plaintiffs’ verdict for other reasons, Fourth DCA criticizes arguments by plaintiffs’ counsel and indicates they would warrant reversal if properly preserved. [Added 8/6/16] -- Okeechobee Aerie 4137, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Inc. v. Wilde, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, Nos. 4D14-2770, 4D14-2771, 8/3/2016), 2016 WL _______.
First DCA reverses verdict for defendant in personal injury case due to improper closing argument, and also criticizes plaintiff’s counsel for denigrating defense expert and defense counsel on Facebook. [Added 8/4/16] -- Boyles v. Dillard’s, Inc., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D14-5276, 7/25/2016), 2016 WL 3974849
Second DCA reverses finding of indirect criminal contempt against 2 lawyers, but urges every lawyer to make “civility and professionalism an integral part of his or her daily life.” [Added 7/25/16] -- Haas v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, Nos. 2D15-19, 2D15-321, 7/15/2016), 2016 WL 3766748.
Prosecutor’s “typification” in closing argument of defendant lawyer accused of stealing trust money from clients was improper but did not result in reversal of conviction. [Added 7/15/16] -- Bailey v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, Nos. 3D14-1917, 3D14-1868, 3D16-1368), 7/13/2016), 2016 WL _______.
Second DCA adopts and publishes “Practice Preferences” for lawyers engaging in appellate practice in that District. [Added 6/29/16] --
In an effort to promote “best practices in appellate advocacy, the Second DCA has adopted and published its “Practice Preferences.” The court pointed out that this document provides only “suggestions” and does not “create any enforceable rights – for or against anyone.” Further, nothing in the Practice Preferences “is intended to supplant or modify any promulgated rule or law.” The Practice Preferences address 3 subject areas in appellate practice: (1) Notices, Motions, and Records; (2) Briefs and Brief Writing; and (3) Oral Argument.
The Practice Preferences are on the Second DCA website at: http://www.2dca.org/Clerk/Practice%20Preferences%20amended%20Oct%20'15%20formatted.pdf .
Uniform "Standards of Professional Courtesy and Civility" are adopted by the 11th, 15th, 17th, and 19th Florida circuits. [Added 5/20/16]
Four Florida circuits have adopted the same set of "Standards of Professional Courtesy and Civility." The Standards are now in place in the 11th, 15th, 17th, and 19th circuits. This allows the Professionalism Panels in each circuit to apply the same guidelines. For background information, see this story in the June 1, 2016, issue of the Florida Bar News.
Third DCA reminds lawyers of their obligation regarding “a fundamental tenant of appellate advocacy.” [Added 5/4/16] -- Hall v. Hall, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-12, 4/27/2016), 2016 WL 1688611.
Fourth DCA reverses $5.8 million verdict in tobacco case due to improper argument by plaintiff’s counsel. [Added 4/18/16] -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Gafney, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D13-4358, 3/23/2016), 2016 WL 1128480.
Third DCA cautions counsel that improper argument can result in reversal of favorable verdict. [Added 4/18/16] -- City of Miami v. Kinser, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-370, 3/23/2016).
After First DCA reverses dismissal of bank’s claim as sanction for its counsel’s discovery violations, concurring opinion points out harm to public’s confidence in judiciary caused by discovery abuses. [Added 3/13/16] -- Bank of New York Mellon v. Clark, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D15-2250, 2/2/2016), 2016 WL 392787.
Supreme Court reverses murder and aggravated child abuse convictions based on numerous and “inflammatory” improper closing arguments at guilt phase. [Added 2/22/16] -- Cardona v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla., No. SC11-1446, 2/18/2016).
Fifth DCA remains “troubled” by number of cases that it sees involving improper prosecutorial argument. [Added 2/16/16] -- Panchoo v. State,__ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D14-4255, 1/22/2016), 2016 WL 264544
Second DCA criticizes counsel for not doing “professional and civil thing to do” and simply stipulating to entry of order rather than litigating. [Added 12/30/15] -- Leichester Trust, Turst Number 1920 v. Federal National Mortgage Ass’n, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D15-1390, 12/23/2015), 2015 WL 9311434.
Fourth DCA questions professionalism of 2 lawyers who litigated and appealed award of fees arising from failure of one lawyer to remove other from service list. [Added 12/21/15] -- Houston v. McKnought-Smith, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-4927, 12/16/2015), 2015 WL _______.
First DCA imposes sanctions against lawyer under F.S. 57.105(1) and Fla.R.App.P. 9.410(a) for filing frivolous appeal and failing to timely respond to show-cause order. [Added 12/21/15] -- In re A.T.H., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D143370, 12/14/2015), 2015 WL 8558301.
Supreme Court reverses murder conviction based in part on “patently improper comments in the closing argument” by prosecutor who “pushed the envelope” before. [Added 12/20/15] -- Evans v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla., No. SC12-2160, 11/12/2015), 2015 WL 7008526.
Fourth DCA imposes appellate fees as sanction under F.S. 57.105 for filing frivolous appeal, and criticizes counsel for making “an extremely misleading assertion.” [Added 12/16/15] -- Cosner v. Park, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-2543, 11/25/2015), 2015 WL 7571466.
Supreme Court affirms conviction despite use of improper argument, but cautions prosecutors against comments that “cross the line from zealous advocacy to improper.” [Added 12/12/15] -- Orme v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla., Nos. SC13-819, SC14-22, 12/10/2015), 2015 WL _______.
In probate litigation involving undue influence on party of lawyer, Second DCA observes that “repercussions from a single ethical lapse may carry far beyond a lawyer’s license to practice law.” [Added 12/9/15] -- In re Estate of Murphy, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D14-4107, 11/6/2015), 2015 WL 6777216.
In dismissing appeal, Third DCA cautions lawyer and his law firm regarding ethical obligations of diligence and candor to the court. [Added 11/17/15] -- Andros Development Corp. v. Benitez, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D15-1858, 11/4/2015), 2015 WL 6738922.
Lawyer whose failure to timely file appellate brief (apparently due to non-payment) resulted in Third DCA dismissing appeal is referred to Local Professionalism Panel. [Added 10/27/15] -- In re Estate of Murphy, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D14-4107, 11/6/2015), 2015 WL 6777216.
Supreme Court disbars lawyer who had prior discipline for unprofessional conduct. [Added 10/17/15] -- Florida Bar v. Norkin, __ So.3d __ (Fla., SC11-1356, SC13-2480, 10/8/2015), 2015 WL 5853915.
Supreme Court amends “Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints” on its own motion. [Added 9/11/15] -- In re: Amendments to the Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints, __ So.3d __ (Fla., No. SC15-944, 9/10/2015), 2015 WL 5254238.
Following 3 show-cause proceedings, Second DCA publishes order referring lawyer to Florida Bar for conduct including apparent lack of candor to the court. [Added 8/31/15] -- Cooper v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D14-4027, 8/28/2015), 2015 WL 5062267.
Fifth DCA imposes fees and fines on 2 lawyers as sanctions for filing frivolous notice of lis pendens and baseless motion for extension of lis pendens. [Added 8/7/15] -- Massa v. McNutt, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D14-351, 8/7/2015), 2015 WL 4660527.
Fifth DCA cautions lawyer about her duty to court to properly describe status of law being argued. [Added 8/4/15] -- Florida Peninsula Ins. Co. v. Ken Mullen Plumbing, Inc., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D14-3480, 7/31/2015), 2015 WL 4577201.
In concurring opinion, Third DCA judge criticizes conduct of lawyer who prosecuted “frivolous appeal." [Added 7/17/15] --Barnsdale Holdings, LLC v. PHH Mortgage Corp., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D14-837, 7/15/2015), 2015 WL 4269918.
Fifth DCA criticizes professionalism of lawyer who based appellate argument on testimony of client, which trial court found to be less credible than testimony of state’s witness. [Added 6/24/15] -- Gonser v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D14-2146, 6/19/2015), 2015 WL 3753505.
Lawyer’s “abuse of the rehearing process” prompts Fifth DCA to refer lawyer to Florida Bar and issue order to show cause why he should not be monetarily sanctioned for filing the “meritless and insulting” motion. [Added 6/2/15] -- McDonnell v. Sanford Airport Authority, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D13-3850, 5/15/2015), 2015 WL 2259430.
Second DCA imposes sanctions on lawyer, refers her to Bar, and orders her to self-report to local Circuit Professionalism Panel for failure to follow proper appellate procedures. [Added 5/13/15] -- Garcia v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, Nos. 2D15-54, 2D15-403, 2D15-409, 5/1/2015), 2015 WL 1955674.
First DCA criticizes appellate counsel for failure to adequately identify and raise only meritorious claims on appeal. [Added 4/18/15] -- Broga v. Broga, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 1st DCA, No. 1D14-1364, 4/15/2015).
Lawyer ordered to personally pay appellate fees as sanction under F.S. 57.105 for prosecuting frivolous appeal. [Added 2/14/15] -- Faddis v. City of Homestead, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D14-121, 2/11/2015).
Second DCA reverses verdict for defendants in personal injury case and remands for new trial, refusing to reward defense counsel’s “’gotcha’ tactics.” [Added 2/11/15] -- Andreaus v. Impact Pest Management, Inc., __ So.2\3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D14-1688, 2/6/2015).
Florida Bar Board of Governors adopts “Professionalism Expectations” for Florida lawyers. [Added 2/3/15] --
At its meeting in Tallahassee on January 30, 2015, the Florida Bar Board of Governors adopted a set of “Professionalism Expectations” for Florida lawyers. The Professionalism Expectations were prepared for the Board by the Bar’s Committee on Professionalism.
The Professionalism Expectations draw from both the Rules of Professional Conduct and “the long-standing customs of fair play, civil, and honorable legal practice in Florida.” The Professionalism Expectations provide guidance to lawyers in seven key areas: (1) Commitment to Equal Justice Under the Law and to the Public Good; (2) Honest and Effective Communication; (3) Adherence to a Fundamental Sense of Honor, Integrity, and Fair Play; (4) Fair and Efficient Administration of Justice; (5) Decorum and Courtesy; (6) Respect for the Time and Commitments of Others; and (7) Independence of Judgment.
Click here to go to the Professionalism Expectations.
Supreme Court amends Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints to grant immunity from civil liability to persons on Local Professionalism Panels and Circuit Committees on Professionalism. [Added 2/2/15] -- In re Amendment to the Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints, __ So.3d __ (Fla., No. SC15-75, 1/29/2015), 2015 WL 357969.
Fifth DCA criticizes improper prosecutorial argument, urging lawyers to avoid devolving into “‘win at all costs’ mentality.” [Added 1/14/15] -- Brinson v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla.5th DCA, No. 5D14-653, 1/2/2015), 2015 WL 24089.
In “textbook case of why the legislature authorized an aaward of fees against obstinate public entities such as Appellant,” Fifth DCA sanctions a county for filing frivolous appeal.Orange County v. Hewlings, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D13-3775, 12/12/2014), 2014 WL 6990570.
Fourth DCA chastises lawyer for “lobbing acrimonious grenades in the form of unprofessional comments directed at opposing counsel and the trial court.” Lieberman v. Lieberman, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D14-509, 11/26/2014).
Third DCA imposes 57.105 sanctions in equal shares against party and his lawyer for pursuing meritless appeal.Nordt v. Nordt, ___ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, Nos. 3D13-2415, 3D13-2845, 10/15/2014).
Lawyer hit with a sanction of appellate fees and referred to Florida Bar for pursuing frivolous appeal.Schwades v. America’s Wholesale Lender, __ So.3d __, 39 Fla.L.Weekly D1906 (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D13-3518, 9/5/2014), 2014 WL 4374891.
Fifth DCA criticizes state’s counsel in criminal appeal for ignoring relevant case law relied on by opposing party rather than trying to distinguish it.Schepman v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, Nos. 5D13-2290, 5D13-2813, 9/19/2014).
Fifth DCA reverses criminal conviction for fundamental error in closing argument, calling prosecutor’s conduct “unprofessional.”Crew v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D12-4911, 8/29/2014).
Although lawyer’s behavior was “not professional,” trial court abused discretion in imposing sanctions for creating “atmosphere of anxiety and hostility” that disrupted compulsory medical exam.Rush v. Burdge, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D13-1175, 7/11/2014). ~Rush v. Burdge, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 2d DCA, No. 2D13-1175, 7/11/2014).
Fourth DCA publishes opinion serving as “primer” for prosecutors and criminal defense counsel on improper arguments and failure to preserve error.Augustine v. State, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D12-2881, 5/14/2014), 2014 WL 1908817.
Mumbling profanities in foreign language nets lawyer contempt conviction in case where “counsel for neither party distinguished himself by his conduct.” [Added 4/22/14]
In a case described by the Third DCA as one in which “counsel for neither party distinguished himself by his conduct,” Lawyer was found in direct criminal contempt of court for two offenses: a hand gesture allegedly directed toward opposing counsel; and “the mumbling, in Romanian, of profanities at opposing counsel.”
On appeal the Third DCA vacated the hand gesture conviction for insufficient evidence. The appeals court, however, affirmed the contempt conviction for the cursing in Romanian count. The court noted that Lawyer “somehow is under the impression that cursing in his native tongue is somehow less contemptuous than cursing in English.” The court disagreed. The court further noted that it “cannot quarrel with [Lawyer’s] self-assessment” that Lawyer had “blurted out” to the trial court: “I don’t know what common sense is. I lost that a long time ago.” The Third DCA referred Lawyer to the Florida Bar for disciplinary proceedings. Michaels v. Loftus, __ So.3d __ (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D13-1294, 4/2/2014).
Fifth DCA imposes 57.105 sanctions on party and her lawyer, noting that her arguments on appeal were as frivolous as her claim in the underlying case. Badgley v. SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., __ So.3d __ (Fla. 5th DCA, No. 5D13-2500, 3/14/2014).
Supreme Court ups lawyer’s suspension to 2 years for unprofessional conduct toward judges and opposing counsel. [Added 11/4/13] -- Florida Bar v. Norkin, __ So.3d __, 38 Fla.L.Weekly S786 (Fla., No. SC11-1356, 10/31/2013), 2013 WL 5878901.
Despite granting motion to reinstate appeal it had dismissed, Fifth DCA reiterates referral of counsel to Florida Bar for ethical concerns. [Added 10/22/13] -- Montijo v. State, 123 So.3d 133 (Fla. 5th DCA 10/11/2013).
Subordinate lawyers remain responsible for complying with ethics rules even when acting at their superior’s direction. [Added 9/16/13] -- Briarwood Capital v. Lennar Corp., 125 So.3d 291 (Fla. 3d DCA 9/11/2013).
Third DCA calls on prosecutors and defense counsel to be more professional and urges trial courts to respond firmly to unprofessional argument. [Added 6/28/13] -- Fagans v. State, 116 So.3d 569 (Fla. 3d DCA 6/19/2013).
Supreme Court adopts “Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints” effective immediately. [Added 6/7/13] -- In re: Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints, 116 So.3d 280 (Fla. 6/6/2013).
Calling the quality of their legal work “disturbing,” Fifth DCA orders 3 lawyers to show cause why they should not be sanctioned. [Added 5/20/13] -- Hagood v. Wells Fargo, N.A., 125 So.3d 1012 (Fla. 5th DCA 6/28/2013).
Fourth DCA reverses convictions in 2 cases due to improper prosecutorial argument. [Added 3/13/13] -- In 2 recent cases the Fourth DCA reversed criminal convictions and remanded for new trial due to improper argument by the prosecution: Becker v. State, 110 So.3d 473 (Fla. 4th DCA 3/6/2013); Petruschke v. State, 125 So.3d 274 (Fla. 4th DCA 3/6/2013).
Second DCA criticizes lawyer’s improper argument but concludes it does not rise to level of fundamental error. [Added 3/7/13] -- Carnival Corp. v. Jimenez, 112 So.3d 513 (Fla. 2d DCA 2/27/2013).
Fifth DCA judge criticizes professionalism of assistant state attorney, saying State should “demand better” from its prosecutors. [Added 1/28/13] -- Benoit v. State, 113 So.3d 939 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013).
Fifth DCA criticizes level of professionalism demonstrated by lawyer representing client in criminal appeal. [Added 1/6/13] -- Bell v. State, 114 So.3d 229 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013).
Criticizing professionalism of trial counsel, Fifth DCA affirms order striking pleadings of lawyer’s client as sanction. [Added 9/25/12] -- Adams v. Barkman, 114 So.3d 1021 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).
Fifth DCA orders imposition of sanctions and refers counsel to the Florida Bar for “willful non-disclosure of truthful facts in discovery.” [Added 8/15/12] -- Jones v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., 114 So.3d 998 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).
Third DCA affirms section 57.105 fee award for "frivolous and dilatory tactics," but orders it paid in equal parts by party and his lawyer. [Added 8/1/12] -- Stratton v. 6000 Indian Creek, LLC, 95 So.3d 334 (Fla. 3d DCA 7/25/2012).
Fifth DCA criticizes professionalism of insurer’s counsel in filing, and then not withdrawing, motion to strike opponent’s answer brief. [Added 7/26/12] -- Lopez v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., 114 So.3d 991 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). Criticizing prosecutor’s professionalism,
Supreme Court reverses death sentence and remands for new penalty phase proceeding. [Added 7/18/12] -- Delhall v. State, 95 So.3d 134 (Fla. 7/12/2012).
Fourth DCA judge criticizes lawyers for pushing to exceed the bounds of permissible discovery. [Added 7/5/12] -- Coopersmith v. Perrine, 91 So.3d 246 (Fla. 4th DCA 6/27/2012).
Judge’s actions to control attorney behavior in courtroom are not grounds for disqualification, per Third DCA. [Added 6/29/12] -- Bert v. Bermudez, 95 So.3d 274 (Fla. 3d DCA 6/20/2012).
Fifth DCA dissenting opinion urges reversal due to lawyer’s unprofessional comments about opposing expert witness. [Added 6/20/12] -- Rogers v. Bhowani, 89 So.3d 1074 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).
Supreme Court criticizes lawyer for disregarding “spirit” of rules governing post-trial communication with jurors. [Added 6/15/12] -- Van Poyck v. State, 91 So.3d 125 (Fla. 2/16/2012) (revised opinion).
Third DCA discusses need for candor to the court in ex parte proceedings. [Added 5/11/12] -- Velasquez v. Ettenheim, 89 So.3d 981 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).
First DCA commends professionalism of criminal prosecutors who conceded error regarding Faretta issue. [Added 5/9/12] -- Bowers v. State, 85 So.3d 1230 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012).
Fifth DCA criticizes professionalism of lawyer who “strongly disagreed” with trial court’s order in family law case. [Added 5/7/12] -- Robinson v. Robinson, 88 So.3d 973 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).
Third DCA cautions lawyers against filing or relying on extra-record documents and denies appellate fees for that reason. [Added 4/25/12] -- Velazquez v. South Florida Federal Credit Union, 89 So.3d 952 (Fla. 3d DCA 4/18/2012).
Citing "textbook example of legal chutzpah," Third DCA affirms denial of disbarred lawyer's charging lien for costs. [Added 2/15/12] -- Wingate v. Celebrity Cruises, LTD, 79 So.3d 180 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).
Defense counsel in a civil case “stepped over the behavioral bounds” so often during trial that the Fifth DCA reversed the judgment. [Added 2/8/12] -- Irizarry v. Moore, 84 So.3d 1069 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).
Two District Courts of Appeal criticize the professionalism of counsel in mortgage foreclosure cases. [Added 12/29/11] -- Land Development Services, Inc. v. Gulf View Townhomes, LLC, 75 So.3d 865 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011); Vilvar v. Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, 83 So.3d 853 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).
Supreme Court amends the Oath of Admission to the Bar to stress civility. [Added 9/14/11] -- In re: Oath of Admission to the Florida Bar, 73 So.3d 149 (Fla. 2011).
Third DCA criticizes what it euphemistically calls "candor" and "courage" of insurer and its counsel. [Added 8/19/11] -- Ramirez v. United Auto Ins. Co., 67 So.3d 1174 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011).
Fifth DCA reverses verdict due to improper argument, and urges professionalism on retrial. [Added 8/12/11] -- City of Orlando v. Pineiro, 66 So.3d 1064 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).
Fourth DCA criticizes prosecutor's closing argument as a "checklist" of improper argument. [Added 8/4/11] - Roberts v. State, 66 So.3d 401 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).
In unusual case, Third DCA sanctions debtors and their counsel for abusing the legal process in a mortgage foreclosure case. [Added 6/28/11] -- JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Hernandez, __ So.3d ___, 36 Fla.L.Weekly D1328 (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D10-1099, 6/22/2011), 2011 WL 2499641.
Lawyer who tried to buy life insurance policy without insurable interest is referred by 5th DCA to Florida Bar. [Added 5/15/11] -- TTSI Irrevocable Trust v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., 60 So.3d 1148 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).
Fourth DCA criticizes lawyer for an "egregiously false" statement in reply brief. [Added 5/2/11] -- Pamphile v. State, 65 So.3d 107 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).
Fourth DCA reverses judgment and criticizes "gotcha" tactics of insurer's defense counsel. [Added 4/28/11] -- Central Square Tarragon LLC v. Great Divide Ins. Co., __ So.3d ___ (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D09-4795, 7/6/2011) (on rehearing).
First DCA affirms grant of new trial due to improper argument by defense counsel. [Added 4/20/11] -- Linzy v. Rayburn, 58 So.3d 424 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011).
Third DCA criticizes counsel's use of discovery in insurance dispute as an attention-getting device. [Added 3/15/11] -- General Star Indemnity Co. v. Atlantic Hospitality of Florida, LLC, 57 So.3d 238 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011).
Court erred in not awarding 57.105 fees against bank in dismissed mortgage foreclosure case; lawyers' professionalism criticized. [Added 2/28/11] -- South Bay Lakes Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 53 So.3d 1239 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011). NOTE: For another foreclosure case in which the conduct of counsel was criticized, see Jade Winds Ass'n, Inc. v. Citibank, N.A., 63 So.3d 819 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011).
Supreme Court disbars rather than suspends lawyer who practiced while suspended, with 3 concurring justices criticizing conduct of Bar prosecutor. [Added 2/5/11] -- Florida Bar v. Lobasz, 64 So.3d 1167 (Fla. 2011).
Fifth DCA orders lawyer to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for filing improper motion for rehearing. [Added 1/15/11] -- Marion v. Orlando Pain & Medical Rehabilitation, 67 So.3d 264 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).
Fifth DCA criticizes lawyer for filing appeal relating to plea process that he participated in without objection. [Added 12/17/10] -- Barreto v. State, 50 So.3d 738 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).
Supreme Court adds to list of subjects that may be tested on Florida bar examination. [Added 12/10/10] -- In re: Amendments to Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar, 51 So.3d 1144 (Fla. 2010).
Court makes UPL observation and disciplinary referral to Florida Bar in appellate opinion. [Added 11/29/10] -- Opella v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, 48 So.3d 185 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).
Fourth DCA urges Supreme Court to allow trial courts to sanction attorneys for reckless misconduct, not just bad faith. [Added 11/5/10] -- ivero v. Meister, 46 So.3d 1161 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).
Third DCA reverses substantial verdict based on improper argument by plaintiff's counsel. [Added 9/1/10] -- Fasani v. Kowalski, 43 So.3d 805 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).
Fourth DCA criticizes lawyers for failure to comply with candor-toward-the-tribunal rule. [Added 8/31/10] -- Dept. of Children and Families v. D.B.D., 42 So.3d 916 (Fla. 4th DCA, No. 4D09-4862, 8/25/2010).
Fourth DCA reverses criminal conviction due to prosecutor's improper closing argument. [Added 8/19/10] -- Wicklow v. State, 43 So.3d 85 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).
Third DCA reverses another substantial verdict due to improper argument by same lawyer. [Added 8/16/10] -- Chin v. Caiaffa, 42 So.3d 300 (Fla. 3d DCA, No. 3D08-176, 8/4/2010).
Conduct resulting in finding of no probable cause can be used as aggravating factor in disciplinary case, per Florida Supreme Court. [Added 6/30/10] -- Florida Bar v. Ratiner, 46 So.3d 35 (Fla. 2010).
First DCA cautions criminal defense lawyer against repeatedly raising "non-meritorious" arguments court has rejected before. [Added 6/23/10] -- Williams v. State, 45 So.3d 14 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).
Third DCA criticizes law firm's actions but rules that firm is protected by litigation immunity. [Added 3/22/10] - Fernandez v. Haber & Ganguzza, LLP, 30 So.3d 644 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).
First DCA imposes 57.105 fees against party and his lawyer who sought certiorari review after unsworn motion to disqualify JCC was denied. [Added 3/5/10] -- Skarka v. Lennar Homes, Inc./Broadspire, 29 So.3d 1170 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).
Civil theft judgment against lawyer who left law firm and took clients with him is reversed, despite conduct called "loathsome" by DCA. [Added 2/10/10] -- Winters v. Mulholland, 33 So.3d 54 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010).
Fourth DCA comments critically on lawyers' professionalism in filing "emergency" motions. [Added 10/23/09] -- USAA Casualty Ins. Co. v. Pembroke Pines MRI, Inc., 24 So.3d 588 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).
Trial notice is not "a hunting license" to engage in unprofessional behavior, Fifth DCA judge warns. [Added 9/22/09] -- Allen v. State, 17 So.3d 897 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009).
Supreme Court again criticizes prosecutor's closing argument, but it did not rise to level of fundamental error. [Added 9/1/09] -- Hayward v. State, 24 So.3d 17 (Fla. 2009).
Court may individually assess personal representative for attorney's fees resulting from frivolous litigation, even absent bad faith finding. [Added 6/21/09] -- Geary v. Butzel Long, P.C., 13 So.3d 149 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).
Criminal conviction reversed due to prosecution's improper closing argument. [Added 6/16/09] -- Fleurimond v. State, 10 So.3d 1140 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).
Despite improper argument that one judge called "outrageous," Third DCA affirms criminal conviction. [Added 4/28/09] -- Williams v. State, 10 So.3d 218 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).
Although criticizing lawyer's conduct as "reprehensible," First DCA reverses section 57.105 attorney's fees sanction. [Added 4/7/09] -- Campbell v. Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation, 9 So.3d 59 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).
Fourth DCA affirms order sanctioning lawyer for bad-faith litigation conduct. [Added 11/29/08] -- Shniderman v. Fitness Innovations and Technologies, Inc., 994 So.2d 508 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008).
Third DCA reverses dismissal of case that was imposed as sanction for actions of plaintiff's lawyer. [Added 9/9/08] -- Burgess v. Pfizer, Inc., 990 So.2d 1140 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).
Jury verdict is reversed due to counsel's statement during voir dire that he was a "consumer justice attorney" representing an individual rather than a "fancy company." [Added 8/26/08] -- Hollenbeck v. Hooks, 993 So.2d 50 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008).
F.S. 57.105 attorney's fees assessed against lawyer and clients for filing disqualification motion as "litigation tactic." [Added 8/13/08] -- Yang Enterprises, Inc. v. Georgalis, 988 So.2d 1180 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008).
Expressing skepticism regarding some motions to dismiss alleging fraud on the court, Fifth DCA reverses dismissal order entered without evidentiary hearing. [Added 7/8/08] -- Bologna v. Schlanger, 995 So.2d 526 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
Lawyer who failed to appear at court-ordered mediation is sanctioned by court and referred to Florida Bar. [Added 6/18/08] -- Mojzisik v. Estrada, 983 So.2d 699 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
Fourth DCA is critical of criminal defense counsel's argument concerning state's conduct. [Added 6/18/08] -- State v. Martin, 982 So.2d 1288 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008).
Lawyer's conduct before judge is criticized, but finding that lawyer was guilty of direct criminal contempt is reversed. [Added 5/13/08] -- Wiggs v. State, 981 So.2d 576 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
Lawyer ordered to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for filing improper motion for rehearing and clarification. [Added 5/5/08] -- Ayala v. Gonzalez, 984 So.2d 523 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
Trial court's order granting summary judgment is reversed due to "incompetence" of party's original lawyer. [Added 4/8/08] -- Olesh v. Greenberg, 978 So.2d 238 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
Verdict for slip-and-fall plaintiff is reversed due to "improper and unprofessional" argument and trial conduct by plaintiff's counsel. [Added 2/19/08] -- SDG Dadeland Associates, Inc. v. Anthony, 979 So.2d 997 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).
Fifth DCA criticizes conduct of lawyers involved in placing irrelevant, prejudicial evidence before jury. [Added 1/10/08] -- Williams v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc., 973 So.2d 1180 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008).
First DCA imposes attorney's fees under Fla.Stat. sec. 61.16(1) against appellant for filing frivolous appeal in domestic relations matter. [Added 11/30/07] -- Lahodik v. Lahodik, 969 So.2d 533 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007).
Questioned fee arrangement does not result in reversal of conviction, but defense counsel's handling of murder weapon does. [Added 11/14/07] -- Alessi v. State, 969 So.2d 430 (Fla. 5th DCA, 2007).
Lawyer has no legal duty to stop someone from illegally taping conversation, but could face liability for disclosing or using tape. [Added 10/29/07] -- Horning-Keating v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 969 So.2d 412 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007). NOTE: See also Dreggors v. Employers Ins. of Wausau, ___ So.2d ___, 32 Fla.L.Weekly D2727 (Fla. 5th DCA, Nos. 5D05-4047, 5D05-4048, 5D05-4049, 5D05-4050, 5D06-620, 5D06-621, 5D06-622, 5D06-623, 11/16/2007), 2007 WL 3390888.
"Highly improper, unprofessional argument" results in reversal of criminal conviction. [Added 9/20/07] -- Chavers v. State, 964 So.2d 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).
Fifth DCA chastises lawyer who filed motion for rehearing on the basis that she did not understand reason for court's per curiam affirmance. [Added 8/24/07] -- Lowry v. State, 963 So.2d 321 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).
Second DCA reminds lawyers to present facts and law "in an accurate and forthright manner." [Added 6/14/07] -- Brown v. State, 958 So.2d 1029 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007).
Lawyer commended for candor in seeking amount of fees orally agreed to rather than amount provided in written co-counsel contract [Added 4/6/07] -- Jay v. Trazenfeld, 952 So.2d 635 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).
Trial court abused discretion by denying motion for new trial based on non-disclosure by juror (who happened to be a lawyer) of her personal litigation history. [Added 4/4/07] -- Pereda v. Parajon, 957 So.2d 1194 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007).
Judge did not err by allowing jurors to continue deliberations until after midnight over defense counsel's objection; lawyers criticized for unrealistic assessment of time required. [3/15/07] -- Green v. State, 951 So.2d 962 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007).
Fifth DCA cautions against "patently overbroad" discovery requests and urges lawyers to work together to "reasonably narrow" disputed discovery issues. [Added 1/23/07] -- Life Care Centers of America v. Reese, 948 So.2d 830 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).
"Offensive remarks" and accusations contained in appellate briefs lead to award of Fla.Stat. sec. 57.105 attorney's fees against lawyer. [9/18/06] --Thomas v. Patton, 939 So.2d 139 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006).
Lawyer commended for professionalism in candidly accepting blame for conduct leading to imposition of sanctions. [Added 5/8/06] -- Doorstep Beverages of Longwood, Inc. v. Collier, 928 So.2d 482 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (on rehearing).
In appropriate case, appellee or its counsel may be sanctioned by appellate court for defending "indefensible" order of trial court. [Added 7/29/05] -- Boca Burger, Inc. v. Forum, 912 So.2d 561 (Fla. 2005).
Lawyer acted unprofessionally by making unsupported charges against trial judge. [Added 8/1/03] -- Shortes v. Hill, 860 So.2d 1 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003).