Legal Ethics

Two more lawyers are permanently disbarred for DUI setup of opposing counsel

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The Florida Supreme Court has permanently disbarred two Tampa lawyers for setting up their opposing counsel for a DUI arrest in the middle of a trial.

The court disbarred Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut on Thursday, saying their actions were “among the most shocking, unethical and unprofessional” that the court had ever witnessed. The Daily Business Review (sub. req.), the Tampa Bay Times and the Legal Profession Blog have stories. The decision is here (PDF).

Adams and Filthaut had argued any disbarment should not be permanent. A third lawyer involved in the setup, Stephen Diaco, was permanently disbarred in January after dropping his appeal.

The lawyers were accused of sending a paralegal to a Tampa steakhouse where the opposing lawyer was having drinks. The flirtatious paralegal seated herself next to the opposing lawyer and later persuaded him to drive her car, resulting in his arrest by a waiting police officer. The targeted lawyer had originally planned to walk home to his nearby apartment.

The court said the actions of the disbarred lawyers “constituted a deliberate and malicious effort to place a heavy finger on the scales of justice for the sole benefit of themselves and their client.”

Filthaut’s lawyer, Mark O’Brien, told the Daily Business Review that his client “is obviously very disappointed, but he has moved on and is actually very happy in his current endeavors.” Filthaut now runs an auto-glass business.

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