ORLANDO -- Attorney Samuel Harker Lanier was suspended indefinitely by the Florida Bar Association in June. The ruling stems from charges and subsequent guilty verdict of several criminal infractions--both misdemeanor and felony--committed by the lawyer in January.
According to court documents, Lanier, who was admitted to the Florida Bar Association in December 1980 after completing his law education at Washington & Lee University, was arrested on or around Jan. 1. Police caught Lanier driving with a suspended or revoked license, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Authorities also discovered Lanier to be in possession of cocaine, a Schedule II substance, and drug paraphernalia in the form of a plastic bag (third-degree felony), small tin container and glass pipe (first-degree misdemeanor).
On March 10, Lanier pled no contest to all three counts, which allowed him to neither confirm nor deny his guilt in a legal matter on the condition that the individual takes responsibility and receives any punishment handed down.
The attorney was sentenced to supervised probation by the Florida Corrections Department for 24 months for the cocaine possession and one year for the paraphernalia. The probation will be served concurrently for two years and Lanier will not serve any jail time.
The 65-year-old attorney now faces punishment from the Florida Bar Association for the incurred charges and for failure to follow procedure in the wake of his sentencing. The rules regulating the Bar Association outlined in Rule 3-7.2(c) that a lawyer must notify the executive director of any criminal felony charges brought against them. Lanier did not meet this requirement. In addition, his conduct also breached Rule 4-8.4(b), which states that “a lawyer shall not commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s conduct, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”
Lanier, who is a managing partner at the St. Augustine Beach firm in St. Augustine, will be suspended from practicing law. The court order also said he must present notice of his suspension to “all clients, opposing counsel and courts before which he is counsel of record.” The suspension took effect 30 days after the ruling in order to give proper time for the attorney to close out his firm and protect his clients.
A detailed account of the court proceedings and rulings can be found at www.floridabar.org.