Clermont attorney Justin Rickman has been publicly reprimanded by publication following an April 13 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he employed a disbarred attorney as a paralegal.
For almost two years, Rickman employed disbarred attorney Mark Vernon Morsch as a paralegal and did not file notice of employment and sworn information reports with the Florida Bar as required, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. Morsch had direct contact with clients, according to the judgment, which also includes Rickman's conditional guilty plea.
The state Supreme Court's single-page order also directed Rickman to pay $1,496 in costs. The state bar announced the discipline and the Supreme Court's order Sept. 27. In Florida, court orders are not final until after time to file a rehearing motion expires.
Rickman was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 17, 2003, according to his profile at the state bar website. Rickman has had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to his profile and the consent judgment.
Morsch, who was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 20, 1985 and practiced in Oviedo, according to his profile at the state bar website, was disbarred in June 2012 following a Florida Supreme Court order. Morsch agreed to his disbarment following allegations in several disciplinary matters before the state bar, including misappropriation of more than $28,000 of a client's settlement funds and misrepresenting to the client and the bar that potential claims against the estate had been paid.
Morsch had been suspended the previous year.
Rickman employed Morsch as an independent contractor paralegal/investigator between July 11, 2014 and April 29, 2016, according to the consent judgment. Rickman "allowed the situation to exist whereby the disbarred attorney Mark Vernon Morsch had direct contact with clients," the judgment said.
Employing Morsch violated rules regulating the state bar, including those that would have required Rickman notify the state bar of Morsch's employmen,t and that Morsch should have no direct client contact, according to the consent judgment.
The state bar approved Rickman's proposed plea in the matter, the consent judgment said.