Orlando attorney disbarred for alleged client abandonment

By Karen Kidd | Jan 10, 2018

Orlando attorney Christopher M. Stephenson has been disbarred following a Nov. 2 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations that included abandoning the cases of two clients, according to a Florida Bar announcement.

Other allegations against Stephenson included failing to account for and return the two clients' unearned fees, failing to appear for duly noticed deposition matters, and failing to respond to the state base, according to a Dec. 28 state bar announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's two-page order.

Stephenson already was suspended, so his disbarment was effective immediately, according to the court's order. Stephenson also was ordered to pay $5,100 in costs.

In Florida court, orders are not final until the time to file a rehearing motion expires. Attorneys disbarred in the state may not reapply for admission for five years and then must pass through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

Attorneys disbarred in Florida may not reapply for admission for five years.   Contributed image

Stephenson was admitted to The Florida Bar on Sept. 20, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website.

Stephenson was suspended in August 2016, following a petition for contempt and order to show cause, according to a state Supreme Court order issued that month. The order did not give the length for Stephenson's suspension except that until he had "responded in writing to an official bar inquiry and until further order of the court." That order also required Stephenson to pay $1,250 in costs.

Stephenson had failed respond to a grievance by a former client to the state bar, after which a 9th Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee found probable for the state bar's case, according to the state bar's formal complaint filed with the court.

The state bar initiated an audit following complaints by two of Stephenson's former client, both of whom alleged Stephenson "abandoned their legal matters and failed to account for and return their unearned fees," the formal complaint said. One client had paid Stephenson $5,000 while the other client had paid $3,000, according to the complaint.

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