TALLAHASSEE — Daytona Beach attorney Brett Hartley has been indefinitely suspended for the second time in less than six month after he allegedly abandoned his practice, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
"According to a petition for emergency suspension, Hartley appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client funds and abandoning his law practice without taking steps to protect his clients’ interests," the state bar said in its Jan. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
In its four-page order in December, the Supreme Court suspended Hartley and ordered him "to immediately comply with and provide all documents and testimony responsive to a subpoena from The Florida Bar for trust account records." The court also directed any referee who may be appointed in the proceedings to oversee Harley's trust account.
Florida court orders usually are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires but in the Supreme Court's most recent order against Harley said that no motion for rehearing will be allowed. Filing such a motion would not have altered effective date of Hartley's most recent suspension.
Hartley was admitted to the bar in Florida on May 18, 1998, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline is listed on Hartley's state bar profile prior his suspension in August after being found in contempt during the state bar's investigation into his trust account.
The state bar initiated an audit of Hartley's trust account after receiving an overdraft notice from his bank, according to the state bar's petition for emergency suspension.
"The bar's investigation of these matters found that [Hartley] misappropriated client funds," the petition said. "Respondent intentionally commingled funds and abandoned his law office without taking steps to protect his clients' interests."
Hartley had been allowed time for an orderly close of his law practice before his suspension became effective to protect the interests of his existing clients, according to the petition.
"However, he failed to do so and instead abruptly abandoned his existing clients," the petition said.