TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Jacksonville attorney Anthony Wayne Blackburn has been disbarred following a May 24 Florida Supreme Court order after his plea to a battery charge and allegedly soliciting sex from clients, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Blackburn pleaded no contest in court to misdemeanor battery," the state bar said in its June 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's decision. "He solicited sex with two female clients he was representing in criminal matters, while they were incarcerated."
The high court chose disbarment rather than 18 months of suspension, as had been recommended by the referee assigned to the case and to which Blackburn had agreed in the consent judgment reached with the state bar. The consent judgment included Blackburn's conditional guilty plea. "In summary, evidenced by this court's case law, under no circumstances should an attorney representing a client expose that client to unwanted sexual relations of any kind," the court said in its 10-page decision.
"[Blackburn]'s conduct, which exploited his clients' circumstances for his own personal benefit, breeds contempt and distrust of lawyers, demonstrates severe moral turpitude and such actions are wholly inconsistent with approved professional standards."
Blackburn's disbarment was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the statehigh court's order. Blackburn also was ordered to pay almost $1,689 in costs.
In Florida, court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not alter the effective date of Blackburn's disbarment.
Attorneys disbarred in the state generally may not reapply for admission for five years. Even then they must pass through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Blackburn was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 24, 2005, according to his profile at the state bar website.
In a previous discipline, Blackburn was suspended for 30 days in December 2014 following a consent judgment in which he admitted to violating professional conduct rules when he attempted to reunite a biological mother, his client, with her child, then with a couple who had legal custody.