TALLAHASSEE — Miami attorney Peter Dale Fellows faces disbarment following a Dec. 4 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations that included allowing a legal assistant to live in a client's house, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"In one matter, Fellows represented a homeowner in a foreclosure action and engaged in a conflict of interest by allowing his legal assistant, with whom he was romantically involved, to live in the home that was the subject of the representation," the state bar said in its Dec. 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "In another matter Fellows claimed a nonrefundable fee without confirming in writing, and was dishonest during the disciplinary investigation."
Fellows' disbarment will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the state high court's order.
The state Supreme Court handed down its two-page disbarment order despite recommendation by the referee assigned to the matter that Fellows be suspended for 91 days. The court also ordered Fellows to pay about $3,564 in costs.
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 Fellows' disbarment.
Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and then must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Fellows was admitted to the bar in Florida on May 3, 1999, according to his profile at the state bar website.
In the only previous discipline listed on Fellows' state bar profile, he received a public reprimand, was required to attend ethics school and pay $1,250 in costs following an April 2009 state Supreme Court order. That order was handed down after he allegedly failed to maintain adequate communication with clients who had hired him in October 2005 to represent them in a lawsuit, according to a consent judgment at the time. The consent judgment also included Fellows' conditional guilty plea.