TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Wesley Chapel attorney Mercedes Gonzalez Hale has been publicly reprimanded following a March 2 Florida Supreme Court order after she was found in contempt for not responding to an official inquiry, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Hale was found in contempt for failing to timely respond to bar inquiries," the state bar said in its April 30 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "A grievance committee found that Hale failed to show good cause for failing to respond, and the noncompliance was willful. Letters were sent to Hale by the Bar from June 20-Nov. 22, 2017."
The high court also ordered Hale to pay $1,250 in costs. Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not have altered the effective date of the Hale's reprimand.
Hale was admitted to the bar in Florida on May 7, 1992, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Hale's state bar profile.
In December a grievance committee found Hale in contempt after she failed to respond to repeated inquiries as part of an investigation into a complaint filed against her. The grievance committee asked the state bar to file a petition for contempt and order to show cause with the court, which the state bar subsequently did.
"This Court issued an order to show cause to [Hale] to respond by a certain date why she should not be held in contempt and suspended until such time as she fully complied in writing to the official bar inquiries," the state Supreme Court said in its order.
Hale has since said she complied with the official inquiries, which the state bar has confirmed "albeit not in a timely manner," the state Supreme Court's order said.
"The court takes very seriously every attorney's obligation to completely and timely respond to inquiries made by The Florida Bar," the state Supreme Court's order continued. "Therefore, because [Hale] did not respond to the inquiries in a timely manner, Mercedes Gonzalez Hale is held in contempt and is publicly reprimanded."