TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court has ordered that Coral Gables attorney Eduardo Rigoberto Soto have a public reprimand published in the Southern Reporter following his handling of an immigration case. 

The decision came in lieu of Soto’s alleged incompetence in handling the case that left his client with only days to “seek other options” or be deported, according to court records.

Soto was hired by a client in 2014 seeking an O-1A nonimmigrant visa which is reserved for immigrants with exceptional abilities. The client claimed such status as he was a champion horse trainer with several titles to his name. The client paid a $4,000 retainer for Soto’s services. 

The client’s employer, Santera Stables Inc., signed the petition to satisfy the employer sponsor requirement of the visa and the petition was filed in November 2014. However, the next month the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requested further proof of the client’s abilities. A notice was not sent to the client until February 2015 via email from Soto’s paralegal, which did not request any information from the client.

A response to the USCIS request was submitted on Feb. 19, 2015, referencing the initial documents. The petition was denied on April 28, 2015, a fact that the attorney allegedly failed to inform his client of. The client was only aware of the status after checking himself through an online portal, according to court documents. When the client discovered his petition had been denied, he was only left with a few days to rectify his immigration status by different means. 

The Florida State Bar deemed Soto’s conduct warranted discipline, although the circumstances did not lend themselves to a harsher sentence. However, Soto will be required to pay all court costs for his disciplinary proceedings. 

The Miami-Dade County attorney was admitted to the Florida State Bar in September 1990 after graduating from the University of Miami School of Law. The attorney has one prior record of discipline, another public reprimand stemming from an April 2009 order. 

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