TALLAHASSEE – Longtime Tallahassee attorney Richard Edward Benton faces indefinite suspension following a Feb. 19 Florida Supreme Court order for allegedly ignoring a state bar investigation, The Florida Bar said in a recent release.
"Benton failed to respond to official bar inquiries and a subpoena," the state bar said in its Feb. 28 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
Benton's suspension until further order will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's order, the announcement said.
The state bar's petition for contempt and order to show cause does not provide details about its investigation concerning Benton. The petition did urge the court to order Benton to pay $1,250 and to suspend him "until such time as he fully responds in writing to the official Bar inquiry and subpoena."
The petition followed a grievance committee finding that Benton was in noncompliance and that he failed to respond to an official inquiry.
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 Benton's suspension.
Benton was admitted to the bar in Florida on June 1, 1976, according to his profile on the state bar website.
In a previous discipline, Benton was suspended for 40 days following a June 2011 state Supreme Court order over allegations arising from a single client matter.
"Benton accepted legal fees from a client but took no action to move the case forward and subsequently failed to communicate regarding the status," the state bar said in an announcement at the time. "The client requested the return of his money and retained another attorney to complete the case. Benton also failed to respond to the bar’s inquiries regarding the matter."
Benton also was ordered to pay $1,300 in costs and to attend ethics school as part of the 2011 discipline.