Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Florida Supreme Court Order permanently disbarring a Florida lawyer for, inter alia, breaking into his former law firm and the firm’s storage unit, creating a parallel law firm, and filing multiple improper fee liens. The case is The Florida Bar v. Christopher Louis Brady, Case No.: SC19-39, TFB No. 2019-10,127(12B)(HES). The July 11, 2019 Florida Supreme Court Order is here: https://lsg.floridabar.org/dasset/DIVADM/ME/MPDisAct.nsf/DISACTVIEW/2A42CACF97608E7785258439000C41B7/$FILE/_11.PDF
According to the referee’s report, the lawyer was employed as an associate at a law firm and was fired in July 2018 after missing hearings and for exhibiting “odd and concerning behavior.” Almost immediately after his firing, the lawyer began holding himself out as the owner of the former law firm even though there was one sole owner. The Report of Referee is here: https://lsg.floridabar.org/dasset/DIVADM/ME/MPDisAct.nsf/DISACTVIEW/32070D97303477DA852583DF000AB0F1/$FILE/_19.PDF. The lawyer justified his actions by claiming that the former law firm’s failure to use periods in “PA” when created as a professional association gave him the right to create a new firm of the same name by filing as a professional association with periods, so that it read “P.A.”.
The lawyer and his twin brother were also criminally charged with burglarizing the former law firm’s office in August 2018. A videotape of the burglary apparently showed the lawyer and his brother backing a truck up to the law firm, tying a rope from the truck to the front door and using the vehicle to rip the door open. The video also showed the lawyer and his brother removing a safe and the law firm’s computer server. A few days later, the lawyer and his brother burglarized the law firm owner’s storage unit using keys which were taken from a safe that was stolen during the law firm burglary, according to the referee. The lawyer also stole a firearm during the burglary.
The lawyer filed several documents on behalf of the law firm and its clients without their knowledge or authority, and filed a false confession of judgment in his own favor. He also filed more than 100 notices of liens for fees in the law firm’s pending cases “in an attempt to grab fees from cases to which he was not entitled.”
The law firm owner obtained an injunction which barred the lawyer from harassing him or interfering with his business. The injunction also prohibited the lawyer from contacting the firm owner, his employees, his clients or his attorney. The lawyer violated that injunction multiple times and a court order was issued holding him in contempt for violating the injunction three times.
The referee’s report cited the lawyer’s refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct as one of the multiple aggravating factors and recommended permanent disbarment. According to the referee’s report, “(the lawyer’s failure to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his misconduct) is perhaps the most profoundly implicated aggravator in this case”. The lawyer “clings to his justification for his actions with a ferocity that is quite disturbing.”
Bottom line: This case is certainly very bizarre and the lawyer’s conduct as set forth in the report of referee is extremely disturbing.
Be careful out there.
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
29605 U.S. Highway 19 N. Suite 150
Clearwater, Florida 33761
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670