A Palm Coast attorney was about to petition the Florida Bar to return from a one-year suspension for having sex with a client. But then he got into more trouble: Bradley Sherman violated additional Florida Bar rules while serving his suspension and is now barred from practicing law for another 18 months, according to documents.
The state Supreme Court found Sherman in contempt of its previous order dealing with the initial discipline, suspended him again and ordered Sherman to pay the Florida Bar $1,250.
Sherman stated he was unaware of the Florida Bar rule prohibiting him from direct contact with clients and requiring notice to the bar if he worked for another law firm or lawyer during his suspension. But the Florida Bar stated it had sent him a letter informing him of the rules.
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Sherman acknowledged receiving the letter but said he did not read the specific requirements, according to a response from Sherman’s attorney, Warren Lindsey in Maitland.
“His failure to carefully review the email along with Rule 3-6.1 was an unintentional oversight, for which he has deep regret and for which he sincerely apologizes. He absolutely did not intentionally or knowingly violate the rule,” Lindsey wrote.
Sherman’s failure to read the rules was “concerning especially in light of the nature of the respondent’s underlying misconduct,” according to a response from Karen Clark Bankowitz, counsel for the Florida Bar.
Sherman could not be reached for comment. Lindsey had not responded to a message at his office.
Sherman was initially suspended by the Florida Supreme Court on July 22, 2021, taking effect Aug. 23, 2021, for having sex with a woman he represented. At the time, Sherman listed an office in DeLand.
The Florida Bar cited other rule violations in making its suspension recommendation to the state Supreme Court, including that Sherman used some information he learned as the woman’s lawyer against her when the pair’s relationship deteriorated and the two clashed over parenting their child.
No contact with clients
Sherman now faces an even longer stretch without his law license.
Sherman was prohibited from having any contact or communication in any manner with any clients while working for law firms during his suspension, according to a petition for contempt and order to show cause from Bankowitz, counsel for the Florida Bar.
The rules also required Sherman’s legal employers to provide the Florida Bar a description of Sherman’s duties before he started work. The rule also required Sherman and his employer to file quarterly reports, stating, among other things, that no aspects of his work involved the unlicensed practice of law and that he had no client contact.
But the Florida Bar on June 7 received an email from Politis & Matovina stating that Sherman had been working there since Feb. 18. It was news to the bar.
The firm and Sherman both acknowledged that the notice should have been provided on or before Feb. 18. Sherman worked there until June.
Sherman admitted to having direct contact with one client to collect information.
Sherman also emailed the Florida Bar on June 7 stating he had worked as an independent contractor, paralegal and legal assistant for attorney Charles Vega from January to June. Sherman also sent the bar at that point quarterly reports. Sherman admitted communicating with clients to collect and communicate information.
Sherman also emailed the Florida Bar a notice on June 23 that he had done pro bono volunteer work for Community Legal Services of Central Florida between April 27 and approximately June 7. Sherman admitted to having “limited” contact with about five clients who did not have computer access by helping them complete family law forms.
“The above conduct describes a clear pattern of failure to abide by the order of this court,” Bankowitz wrote in the petition to the state Supreme Court to find Sherman in contempt.
Bankowitz noted that violating a suspension was generally punishable by disbarment, “absent strong extenuating circumstances.”
Instead of disbarment, the Florida Bar requested the Supreme Court slap another 18 months of suspension to follow Sherman’s one-year suspension.
Sherman asked for a lesser suspension, according to a response from his attorney, Lindsey.
Lindsey noted that Sherman was remorseful.
Sherman acknowledged that he received a letter from the Florida Bar counsel “mentioning” Rule 3-6.1 but “he neglected to actually read the specific provisions” of the rule, Lindsey wrote.
Sherman learned of the rule’s requirements from his lawyer as he prepared to file for reinstatement from his one-year suspension, the response stated. Sherman then self-reported his “unintentional failure” to the Florida Bar and advised the entities he had worked for.
Sherman told the two law firms and legal-aid that he had been suspended by the Florida Bar prior to working for them and they “apparently were also not knowledgeable of the specific requirements” of the rule, Lindsey wrote.
“Sherman in providing this response apologizes to the court and to the bar for his ethical lapses in this matter,” according to the response.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Lawyer suspended again for violating rules of initial suspension