TALLAHASSEE — Miami attorney LaTonia Denise Jackson faces suspension and probation following a Nov. 8 Florida Supreme Court order over issues arising from mismanagement of her trust account and a nonattorney employee, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
"Jackson was negligent in managing her trust account and supervising a nonlawyer employee while working as a title and settlement agent," the state bar said in its Nov. 30 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "As a result, trust account records were not properly maintained."
The high court suspended Jackson for 90 days and placed her on two years' probation, according to the court's two-page order. Jackson's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow her time to close out her practice and protect her existing clients' interests, according to the high court's 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 Jackson's suspension.
Jackson was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 9, 2007, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Jackson's state bar profile.
Allegations against Jackson stemmed from a business arrangement she made with her office manager in 2014, according to the stipulation to probable cause and consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Jackson's conditional guilty plea.
Jackson agreed to pay her office manager a 45 percent commission on fees Jackson earned each month from closings and the employee agreed to pay 45 percent of the firm's expenses, including rent, overhead and salaries. "[Jackson] maintains that she was unaware that such an arrangement with a nonlawyer was prohibited under the rules," the consent judgment said.
A title insurance fund audit later turned up issues with Jackson's trust account, including forged checks and unauthorized payments that would have been "extremely difficult to detect by an untrained examiner," the consent judgment said. Jackson's files and computer records were also stolen from her office.
"There is no indication that [Jackson] was aware of or complicit in the fraudulent activity or theft and she has not been the subject of any criminal investigation to date," the consent judgment said.