The Florida Bar v. Rood, Nos. 78741

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BARKETT; McDONALD; OVERTON; McDONALD
Citation622 So.2d 974
Parties18 Fla. L. Week. S423 THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant, v. Edward B. ROOD, Respondent.
Docket NumberNos. 78741,78795
Decision Date24 June 1993

Page 974

622 So.2d 974
18 Fla. L. Week. S423
THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant,
v.
Edward B. ROOD, Respondent.
Nos. 78741, 78795.
Supreme Court of Florida.
June 24, 1993.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 2, 1993.

John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director, and John T. Berry, Staff Counsel, Tallahassee, and Bonnie L. Mahon and Joseph A. Corsmeier, Asst. Staff Counsels, Tampa, for complainant.

Edward B. Rood, pro se.

PER CURIAM.

Both the Florida Bar and Edward B. Rood petition this Court to review the report of the referee recommending that Rood be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years. We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 15 of the Florida Constitution and approve the referee's recommendation of a two-year suspension.

The Bar filed a three-count complaint against Rood, but voluntarily dismissed count II of the complaint. After an evidentiary hearing, the referee found Rood guilty of count I and found that count III had not been proven with clear and convincing evidence. We will consider each count separately.

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Case No. 78,795

The Stephenson Case:

The parents of Heidi Stephenson employed the law firm of Rood, Hapner, and Dekle to represent them after Heidi was involved in a slip and fall accident. David Webster, an attorney with the firm, handled the matter. In May 1984, the case settled for $50,000 and Heidi's share of the settlement proceeds amounted to $20,000. The court ordered that Heidi's money be deposited in a guardianship account and that the funds be withdrawn only by order of the probate division judge.

Webster left the firm sometime between May 1984 and October 1986, but the Stephensons' case remained with the Rood firm. In July 1984, Rood's son disbursed the settlement proceeds to Heidi's parents without insuring that Heidi's money was deposited in the guardianship account. Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson then spent Heidi's money without the permission of the probate judge. Because an annual accounting had not been filed, the probate judge issued an order to show cause in October 1986 directed to the Stephensons and Rood's law firm. There was no response to the show cause order, and the court issued a contempt notice to the Stephensons and Webster. Prior to the contempt hearing, Mrs. Stephenson advised Rood in a letter that all of Heidi's money had been spent, that she had not answered Rood's inquiries because she was afraid, and that she was ready to be punished for spending her daughter's money. Rood attended the hearing on behalf of the Stephensons, and he notified them of the judge's order that they repay Heidi her money by her eighteenth birthday. Rood did nothing further on the case until April 1988, when the court issued another order to show cause because of the failure to file the annual accounting.

Rood claimed that his office then mailed some probate forms to the Stephensons and filed the forms with the court once they were returned to his office. Mrs. Stephenson testified, however, that Rood called her and advised her to come into his office to sign some papers. At his office, Rood presented her with a completed annual return of co-guardians and informed her that she had to sign the document or risk going to jail. Mrs. Stephenson signed the documents and Rood filed them with the court. The referee accepted Mrs. Stephenson's testimony.

Shortly after signing the false annual return of co-guardian, Mrs. Stephenson was hospitalized for treatment of a serious illness. On June 20, 1988, while Mrs. Stephenson was in the hospital, Heidi and her older sister visited Rood's office. Rood informed them that if Heidi failed to sign the acknowledgment of receipt of property, their mother would go to jail. Consequently, Heidi signed the document and Rood filed it. However, because neither an inventory nor a petition for discharge was filed, another order to show cause was issued on June 6, 1989. Rood asked an associate, Dennis Lopez, to handle the matter.

Lopez learned through his conversations with the Stephensons that the documents they signed were false. On August 16, 1989, Lopez spoke with Rood about the Stephensons' allegations and Rood stated that he could not recall the case. The next day Rood went to the probate judge's office and obtained an order of discharge of co-guardians, even though Rood knew that the documents in support of the order were false. Lopez advised Rood that he intended to submit an affidavit to the court outlining the Stephensons' comments about spending Heidi's money and signing false documents. At that point, Rood returned to the probate judge and informed him that a mistake had been made regarding the guardianship papers, and the judge voided the order of discharge of co-guardians.

On September 6, 1989, Rood contacted the Stephensons' new attorney, Douglas Gregory, and advised him that the Stephensons should execute a promissory note to Heidi prior to the next hearing before the probate judge. In closed chambers prior to the hearing, Rood advised the judge that there was no reason to ask the Stephensons about the false documents because a promissory note had been prepared. The

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judge did not ask any questions about the documents.

Based on these findings, the referee recommended that Rood be found guilty of violating the following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: Rule 4-1.1 (a lawyer shall provide competent representation); rule 4-1.2(d) (a lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is criminal or fraudulent); rule 4-1.3 (a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence); rule 4-3.3(b) (candor towards the tribunal); rule 4-3.3(d) (in an ex parte proceeding a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse); rule 4-4.1(b) (in the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client); and rule 4-8.4(a), (b), (c) and (d) (a lawyer shall not: (a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; or (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice). As a disciplinary measure, the referee recommended that Rood be suspended for one year and thereafter until he shall prove rehabilitation.

Gambling Debts:

In November 1988, Rood executed a worthless check complaint alleging that Michael Ng gave him four worthless checks in return for cash. The Bar alleges that in April 1989, Rood gambled with Ng...

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5 practice notes
  • The Florida Bar v. Cibula, No. 89,551.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 25, 1998
    ...(Fla.1994)(false statements in affidavit seeking disqualification of judge in contempt hearing against attorney); Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla. 1993)(false affidavit to court in suit alleging attorney's son fraudulently conveyed property to him); Florida Bar v. O'Malley, 534 So.2......
  • The Florida Bar v. Martocci, No. 88180
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 2, 1997
    ...the referee "is the person most well-equipped to judge the character and demeanor of the lawyer being disciplined." Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974, 977 (Fla.1993). While Judge Angelos acknowledged that she did not approve of respondent's conduct, she concluded that based on all the evid......
  • The Florida Bar v. Charnock, No. 81857
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 26, 1995
    ...the referee is in a unique position to assess the demeanor and credibility of the lawyer being disciplined. See Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla.1993). At the hearing, Charnock testified that it was upon the direct advice of appellate counsel that he put someone in possession of the ......
  • The Florida Bar v. Rood, No. 83768
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 29, 1996
    ...for two years in 1993 and for an additional consecutive year in 1994. Florida Bar v. Rood, 633 So.2d 7 (Fla.1994); Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla.1993). The Bar subsequently filed a petition to show cause why Rood should not be disbarred for continuing to practice during the suspen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • The Florida Bar v. Cibula, No. 89,551.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 25, 1998
    ...(Fla.1994)(false statements in affidavit seeking disqualification of judge in contempt hearing against attorney); Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla. 1993)(false affidavit to court in suit alleging attorney's son fraudulently conveyed property to him); Florida Bar v. O'Malley, 534 So.2......
  • The Florida Bar v. Martocci, No. 88180
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 2, 1997
    ...the referee "is the person most well-equipped to judge the character and demeanor of the lawyer being disciplined." Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974, 977 (Fla.1993). While Judge Angelos acknowledged that she did not approve of respondent's conduct, she concluded that based on all the evid......
  • The Florida Bar v. Charnock, No. 81857
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 26, 1995
    ...the referee is in a unique position to assess the demeanor and credibility of the lawyer being disciplined. See Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla.1993). At the hearing, Charnock testified that it was upon the direct advice of appellate counsel that he put someone in possession of the ......
  • The Florida Bar v. Rood, No. 83768
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 29, 1996
    ...for two years in 1993 and for an additional consecutive year in 1994. Florida Bar v. Rood, 633 So.2d 7 (Fla.1994); Florida Bar v. Rood, 622 So.2d 974 (Fla.1993). The Bar subsequently filed a petition to show cause why Rood should not be disbarred for continuing to practice during the suspen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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