TALLAHASSEE – Tampa attorney Mark Wilfred Ciaravella was publicly reprimanded and faces suspension following a Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he improperly handled a criminal appeal, a recent announcement by The Florida Bar said.
"After completing duties as standby counsel in a state court criminal proceeding, Ciaravella filed a notice of appeal on behalf of the pro se defendant without the filing fee or certificate of indigency status," the state bar said in its Feb. 28 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "Ciaravella ignored numerous orders from the Second District Court of Appeal to follow protocol."
Ciaravella subsequently was removed as counsel in the case by the Second District Court of Appeal, according to the announcement.
In its two-page order, the high court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before reprimanding Ciaravella and suspending him for 15 days, to be followed by a year of conditional probation. Ciaravella's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order.
The court also ordered Ciaravella to pay $2,215 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 Ciaravella's reprimand or suspension.
Ciaravella was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 23, 1995, according to his profile on the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Ciaravella's state bar profile.
Allegations against Ciaravella stem from his attempts to assist a man charged with armed burglary and trespassing in November 2014, according to the referee's report. Ciaravella had been a standby attorney in a previous case against the man, who in the subsequent case "became incompatible with the public defender" and later "demanded to represent himself," the report said.
"Because of their relationship, and out of concern, (Ciaravella) entered a pro bono appearance as additional standby counsel," the report said.
After the man received a mandatory life sentence, continued to represent himself and declined to appeal, Ciaravella filed a notice of appeal on the man's behalf in August 2015. Ciaravella later failed to comply with multiple appeals court orders and was later admonished by the appeals court, which referred the matter to the state bar.