Sanctions - Consensual Agreements
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Mediator suspended from The Florida Bar. On April 3, 2014, Mediator/attorney agreed to the following terms: he will not conduct any private or court-connected mediations until he is reinstated or renewed as a certified mediator; upon his reinstatement to The Florida Bar he will provide proof of such to the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC); he will not reapply for mediator certification until all Bar matters are cleared; his reapplication will only be considered if he is reinstated by The Bar and provides proof of completion of all matters related to his Bar suspension; to avoid being required to attend mediator training again and apply as a new certification applicant, his reapplication for certification must be received by February 28, 2016; the DRC will notify all judicial circuits of his mediator certification and Bar suspensions; there is no guarantee his renewal or reapplication for certification will be approved; he waives any right to costs and fees against the DRC; and he will be listed as lapsed and sanctioned on the DRC web-based mediator search.
Mediator reported his two-year suspension from The Florida Bar to the DRC. In a Bar disciplinary action, Mediator pled guilty to failing to exercise reasonable supervision to ensure his law firm trust account was in compliance with the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar in 2010 and 2011. Client funds which should have been held in trust by the law firm were transferred to the firm’s operating account and used for other purposes.
The Qualifications Complaint Committee (QCC) had an independent investigation conducted and offered sanctions to Mediator pursuant to 10.810(j).
On July 5, 2012, Mediator agreed to complete 10 hours of additional CME specifically on the subjects of demeanor, impartiality, a balanced process and dealing with high conflict parties, observe 3 separate, non-credit union or non-credit card mediations, and submit a reflective report on what was learned from the experience. Findings: The Grievance Complaint Committee (GCC) found probable cause to believe the mediator violated the Florida Rules for Certified and Court Appointed Mediators, Rules 10.330(a), 10.350, and 10.370(c). The GCC found the mediator did not act impartially in his actions toward the complainant; his manner and speech were inappropriate and his demeanor toward the complainant and her partner was harsh. Further, the mediator offered legal advice. UPDATE: Mediator did not comply with the terms of the agreement and resigned permanently as a mediator.
On August 22, 2012, Mediator agreed to complete 4 hours of additional CME specifically on the topics covering Rule
10.310(a) & (b) Self Determination, Rule 10.350 Demeanor and Rule 10.370 Advice, Opinion and Information. Additionally,
the mediator must submit a reflective report of no less than 3 pages on insights gained. Findings: This case stemmed from a
family matter involving child custody. The complainant was not represented by counsel at the mediation but brought a friend
for moral support. The former husband was represented by counsel during the mediation.
The Grievance Complaint Committee (GCC) interviewed the mediator and complainant and had an independent investigation conducted. The GCC found cause to believe the mediator violated the Florida Rules for Certified and Court Appointed Mediators by not allowing the complainant to have a friend join her in the mediation (without asking the other side if they objected), by indicating his opinion as to how the court would rule, by treating the complainant harshly, by speaking to the complainant in a loud and intimidating voice, and by treating the complainant in a demeaning manner. In lieu of pending probable cause, the GCC offered sanctions to the mediator by agreement.
Mediator agreed to permanently relinquish her certifications as a mediator and agreed not to mediate either privately or in a court setting on March 21, 2012. Findings: The mediator referred the complainant to a specific attorney, was present with the complainant at the meeting with the attorney and acted as complainant’s interpreter, charged excessive fees for mediation services and entered into a relationship with the ex-husband of the complainant, who was the other party to the mediation.
For additional information please contact The Dispute Resolution Center at 850-921-2910 or at DRCmail@flcourts.org.