This is PART IV ½ because it falls about halfway between part IV and V—the latter is the next report regarding the Supreme Court trial of Scot Strems. For those just joining read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here and Part IV here.
For now there are two developments:
- A finding by the Supreme Court dismissing Strems request to have the suspension of his license dissolved.
- A contempt of court allegation by the Florida Bar against Scot Strems alleging he violated the terms of his license suspension.
Number one above sets the stage for the showdown at the Supreme Court (See NOTE#1 below) and number two, if proven, might put a stop to what some believe are attempts to continue alleged misbehavior with another firm, when and if, the trial turns south for Strems.
This contempt accusation, in my opinion, hints at both desperation and disregard–desperation to keep the fees flowing and disregard for ethics and rules of conduct. I can just picture a Supreme Court justice thinking… “this is bad and it’s making everybody else look bad too.” And that, of course, is the ultimate sequel should Strems be disbarred: how many others were behaving similarly? I suspect there are too many. And, I hope any judgement against Strems will cause lawmakers to do whatever it takes to protect the people of Florida going forward.
For now the Florida Bar has accused Scot Strems of repeatedly and continuously violating the order of suspension both in “letter and spirit.” He did this, in part, by creating a “spin off” firm called Property Advocates, P.A., (See Part III), and failing to timely notify clients of the change or to allow them ample time to seek other counsel. “Respondent did not notify his clients of his suspension” the Bar’s contempt petition stated “until he had devised a means for transferring those clients to his former associates.”
The result has been the kind of confusion the Supreme Courts order of suspension was trying to avoid. “Beginning shortly after SLF’s transition into the Property Advocates, courts and litigants across the state expressed confusion about whether Property Advocates were in fact authorized to represent its purported clients.”
According to the Insurance Journal two examples where courts issued stays or ordered compliance by the Strems spinoff firm, are:
- “Citizens Property Insurance Corp. requested a stay in a case until The Property Advocates filed a substitution of counsel with proof of consent by the client and the court grants the substitution request. A Citizens spokesman told Insurance Journal last month the insurer had 802 pending cases with SLF/Property Advocates.
- Another insurer, Southern Fidelity Insurance Corp., was granted a motion by the court to stay any further litigation involving Property Advocates until an order for substitution of counsel had been entered because Property Advocates had failed to provide the requisite notice to clients and failed to substitute counsel.”
For details, all exhibits submitted by the Florida Bar with its contempt petition appear on Johnson Strategies large document site, here. This includes Strems letters to clients, internal memo’s from SLF employee’s, a transcript of the original hearing with Referee Judge Dawn Denaro, Amended Articles of Incorporation, Strems Website screenshots, Insurer attorney fee motions, social media postings, corporate annual reports and more.
Next up, “Collapse of an Evil Empire—PART V”
NOTE #1: There has been some confusion regarding Oral Arguments for Scot Strems suspension scheduled for September 8. Please note, this will not occur at the Supreme Court, but…it will be at the 11th Circuit Court and streamed live through the courts official YouTube channel. The hearing will start at 9:45 AM on the first day, Tuesday September 8th, and at 10:00 AM on every other day. For the 11th circuit’s YouTube channel click here.
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