TALLAHASSEE — Fort Myers attorney Robert Steven Cohen was suspended from the practice of law for a period of 30 days in response to allegations that Cohen engaged in a sexual relationship with a client.
The suspension began Jan. 19, according to a court order by the Florida Supreme Court.
According to court documents, the Lee County attorney, who was admitted to the Florida State Bar in 1986 after graduating from the Houston College of Law, was hired by a client to represent her in May 2009. Cohen began working on the client’s bankruptcy case and, shortly after, began an affair with the client. In September 2010, a petition for bankruptcy was filed; it was discharged in January 2011, though a bankruptcy trustee later discovered that the client had not disclosed all of her property in the proceedings. The client allegedly had ownership of a vehicle, a fact that the client claimed Cohen was aware of at the time of filing and when meeting the bankruptcy trustee in November 2010. However, according to court documents, it was after the meeting that Cohen became aware of the ownership interest in the car.
Cohen withdrew as counsel for the client in January 2012, and the client’s discharge was revoked because of her failure to disclose ownership of the car.
In the aftermath of a Florida Bar investigation into the matter, Cohen entered a guilty plea.
According to Rule 4-8.4(i) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, a lawyer is not allowed to “engage in sexual conduct with a client or representative of a client that exploits or adversely affects the interests of the client or the lawyer-client relationship.”
Cohen also was required to pay all court costs and fees, which as of the Jan. 19 court order equaled $1,250.
The Supreme Court of Florida, located in Tallahassee, was established in 1846 as the highest court in the land. It is presided over by seven justices: Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy A. Quince, Charles T. Canady, Ricky Polston, and C. Alan Lawson.