St. Petersburg attorney suspended for alleged pattern of misconduct

By Karen Kidd | Sep 6, 2018

Mark Stopa was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 23, 2002  

TALLAHASSEE — St. Petersburg attorney Mark P. Stopa has been indefinitely suspended over accusations of settling cases without the consent of clients.

The Florida Supreme Court made the decision on July 27. 

"According to a petition for emergency suspension, Stopa appeared to be causing great public harm by settling cases without the consent of clients, filing frivolous motions and providing misleading information," the Florida Bar said in its announcement of the order.

Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Stopa's suspension

Stopa was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 23, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed.

The state bar's 178-page petition for emergency suspension detailed Stopa's alleged misconduct between 2014 and 2017. The misconduct included failing to appear at scheduled hearings, disrespectful and aggressive behavior toward members of the judiciary, failing to communicate a settlement offer to a client, settling a case without the client's knowledge or authority. Other misconduct described in the petition included behaving aggressively towards a process server and advising a client she could leave the courthouse after being called as a witness. 

"The referee indicated that [Stopa] is in great need of professional psychological help and recommended he be suspended," the petition said.

During a hearing earlier this month, Stopa indicated he is winding down his practice and his clients have been referred to another law firm, according to the referee's report filed Aug. 8.

Stopa does admit wrongdoing, though, the referee's report said.

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