Ethics

Top Florida court suspends lawyer over communication with condo association treasurer

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A Florida lawyer has been suspended after sending a string of disparaging emails and text messages to the treasurer of a condo association.

In its June 22 order, the Florida Supreme Court suspended Fort Lauderdale lawyer James M. Potts Sr. of the Potts Legacy Law Group in Florida for 60 days and placed him on probation for two years.

The court-appointed referee had recommended probation and a public reprimand, but the court said the referee’s “report with respect to not finding pattern of misconduct and multiple offenses as aggravating factors” was disapproved.

Law.com has coverage.

According to the referee’s report, Potts thought Ruben Vicente, treasurer of the Heritage Condominium Association, would harm his clients by canceling the homeowners’ election at the condominium. He began sending Vicente emails in May 2017, including one encouraging him to retain an attorney and informing him that he couldn’t “hide from law enforcement.”

“You can’t hide from the state attorney looking for you when you are in contempt of court, and you especially can’t hide from me,” Potts also said in the email, according to the referee’s report. “You will never see me coming and won’t know what hit you when you realize what you’ve brought upon yourself.”

According to the referee’s report, Potts also told the treasurer to “take some time this weekend to commune with the Lord, because you will need all the help you can get.”

A few days later, after Potts sent text messages to Vicente urging him to resign, Vicente told Potts that his “behavior is unauthorized” and to stop contacting him, the referee’s report said.

Potts responded with another email, writing that he had “the state of Florida on my side preparing to throw down” and “if you are innocent like you say, why not come to the parking area at 2 so we can discuss this like real adults.”

The referee pointed out that the homeowners’ election was scheduled for 2 p.m. in the parking area cited in Potts’ email. Potts had claimed that his statement was not a physical threat, as Vicente interpreted it and as the Florida Bar described it in its initial complaint, according to Law.com.

Kevin Tynan, a partner at Richardson & Tynan in Tamarac, Florida, who represented Potts, told Law.com that the statement was a matter of interpretation.

“This is really a nasty-comment case,” Tynan told Law.com. “My guy was just over the top with his communications.”

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