TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred Ocala attorney Theodore Stewart Fries Jr. from the practice of law as a result of the attorney’s failure to adhere to the terms of a suspension issued on Aug. 12, 2016.
On Sept. 26, 2014, Fries was suspended by the high court. According to a complaint filed with the Florida Bar, Fries was hired by a client to represent him in a dissolution case for $400. The attorney drafted paperwork for the client’s soon-to-be ex-wife to sign and informed him that if she refused to sign, they’d have to “take another route.” The client’s wife refused to sign, and the client repeatedly unsuccessfully attempted to contact Fries to notify him. The attorney allegedly failed to perform any further work on the case and did not respond to the state Bar’s investigation until November 2013 despite an initial attempt to contact him in July 2013.
Fries was suspended for 90 days and ordered to pay $200 in restitution to his client. As part of his suspension, Fries was required to notify his clients and any opposing counsel of his status and was prohibited from accepting new clients until after the suspension was lifted.
On May 12, 2015, Fries was placed on another suspension for failing to provide proof that he had notified all necessary parties. Fries was also suspended on Nov. 16, 2015, and Aug. 12, 2016, for again failing to adhere to the terms of the previous suspension. The precedent set by the attorney over the past three years indicated that a suspension was no longer sufficient sentencing, and therefore disbarment was recommended and enacted.
The Marion County attorney was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2002 after graduating from Stetson University College of Law. Prior to the 2016 suspension, Fries was disciplined four times, including the suspensions in 2015 and 2014, and an instance of public reprimand in 2014.