Legal Ethics

State's top court blasts 2 lawyers seeking nonpermanent disbarment for DUI setup of opposing counsel

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One Florida law firm partner found by a judge in a legal ethics case to have “maliciously” set up opposing counsel for a midtrial drunken-driving arrest has already been permanently disbarred.

But another Adams & Diaco partner and associate subject to the same finding are trying to get the state’s top court to OK nonpermanent disbarment in their cases, which would allow them to seek reinstatement in five years. At a Thursday hearing, their counsel faced a barrage of critical, dubious and downright discouraging comments from justices on the Florida Supreme Court, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

“It could be we’ve never seen a case this bad. Is that possible?” said Justice Fred Lewis, after a lawyer for partner Robert Adams argued that precedent did not support permanent disbarment.

“Come on,” scoffed Justice Barbara Pariente when counsel for associate Adam Filthaut tried to portray him as a “citizen informer” whose only error was calling a friend in the Tampa police department to report a potential driving-under-the influence case.

She characterized both lawyers’ behavior as “outrageous” and “egregious,” the newspaper reports.

As detailed in earlier posts, the DUI case against opposing counsel was eventually dropped by prosecutors, but only after an embarrassing arrest that made headlines in local newspapers. It followed an evening of drinking at a Tampa steakhouse with an Adams & Diaco paralegal who never revealed to him her connection to the firm. When they left, she urged him to get behind the wheel of her car. He did, and he was almost immediately arrested.

Related coverage: “2 lawyers and paralegal take Fifth; name partner says he didn’t direct DUI setup of trial opponent” “Florida lawyer is permanently disbarred for DUI setup”

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