Legal Ethics

Fined $14K in Fed'l Court for Frivolous Filings, Lawyer Is Suspended, Fined $21K by Top Fla. Court

Ordered by a bankruptcy judge to pay a $14,000 penalty for frivolous filings, in a sanction later upheld (PDF) by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a Florida attorney has now been suspended from practice for three months for the same conduct.

The Florida Supreme Court order imposing the suspension also requires Mary Alice Gwynn to pay $21,000 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings, reports the Palm Beach Post.

The newspaper article doesn’t include any comment from Gwynn or her counsel.

Although a referee recommended a 90-day suspension, the supreme court in an opinion (PDF) yesterday suspended Gwynn for 91 days. The one extra day will require her to apply for readmission and prove her fitness to practice, the newspaper points out.

In addition to filing frivolous motions in federal bankruptcy court, in contravention of the best interest of her clients in routine cases, Gwynn continued to do so even after she no longer represented parties in bankruptcy cases, the Florida Supreme Court says in its opinion.

Noting that the referee had found Gwynn’s misconduct in a bankruptcy case to be “intentional, serious and repeated, despite and in defiance of warnings issued to her, and sanctions imposed against her, by a sitting federal judge,” and that he had found her guilty of 15 rule violations, including not only making frivolous claims but making false statements, the court held that the “obvious seriousness” of the misconduct warranted a 91-day suspension.

The court also found that the referee in the disciplinary case against Gwynn did not abuse his discretion by quashing her effort to subpoena a federal bankruptcy judge for a deposition in the ethics matter.

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