Tallahassee attorney publicly reprimanded, allegedly recruited client who feared fake investigation

By Karen Kidd | Dec 3, 2017

Tallahassee attorney Robert Augustus Harper has been publicly reprimanded by publication following an Oct. 21 Florida Supreme Court order for allegedly recruiting a client after convincing her that she was being investigated and failing in certain court filings.

Harper must also attend a professionalism workshop and pay $1,250 in costs, according to the high court's single-page order and the consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Harper's conditional guilty plea. The Florida State Bar announced the discipline and the supreme court's order on Nov. 21.

In Florida, court orders are not final until after time to file a rehearing motion expires.

Harper was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 22, 2004, according to his profile at the state bar website. He has had no other discipline before the state bar for at least ten years, according to his profile.

One of the matters for which Harper was reprimanded involved a teacher on administrative leave over alleged inappropriate touching of a student, for which she entered fee negotiations with Harper for representation in early 2012, according to the consent judgment. Harper allegedly convinced the client she was being investigated by the Florida State Attorney's Office, saying in an email, "Already, there are three prosecutors assigned to the investigation of the complaint made against you," the consent judgment said.

Fearing possible arrest, the teacher borrowed $10,000 for Harper's agreed fee and hired him to represent her, according to the consent judgment and the state bar's announcement. Later the same year, the teacher was exonerated and allegations against her were deemed unfounded. No police report or criminal charges were filed and no investigation was ever opened against her, according to the judgment.

The other matter involved a 2016 Okaloosa County dissolution of a marriage case in which a motion was filed to maintain exclusive jurisdiction in Leon County, according to the consent judgment. In that matter, Harper allegedly failed to submit a notice of related case in either Okaloosa or Leon counties and to a required uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act affidavit. Harper did later correct the filing issue but the motion was ultimately dismissed, according to the judgment.

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