Florida Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Former Miccosukee tribe attorney gets 10-year disbarment for 'perpetrating massive fraud'

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Jul 29, 2019

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TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Longtime Miami attorney Jose Maria Herrera faces a decade of disbarment following a July 17 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations of "perpetrating a massive fraud" on state courts, a recent announcement by The Florida Bar said.

"Herrera raised frivolous claims, made misrepresentations to the court, suborned perjurious testimony and raised false and/or frivolous claims of privilege in order to conceal relevant evidence," the state bar said in its July 26 announcement of the discipline and the court's order. "His abusive litigation tactics harmed his own client's interests and caused prejudice to his client."

Herrera's lengthy disbarment is eyebrow-raising because attorneys disbarred in Florida generally can reapply for admission after five years, an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

"The enhanced disbarment period of 10 years is based on his part in perpetrating a massive fraud upon the courts of South Florida," the state bar's announcement said. Herrera's disbarment will be effective 30 days from the date of the state high court's order, according to the announcement.

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 Herrera's disbarment.

Herrera was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 16, 1986, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Herrera's state bar profile.

Herrera, best known for his representation of a Miccosukee tribe of native peoples dating back to 2012, is alleged - among other things - to have pursued frivolous litigation against rival law firm Lewis Tein and attorneys Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, according to the 82-page referee's report filed with the court.

"In conclusion, after [more than] six years of litigation in three district, state and federal trial courts, and through all appellate review, the positions still espoused by [Herrera] were found to be wholly frivolous and without any legal merit," the referee's report said. "Lewis Tein were vindicated, and each court found that all allegations against them were completely basely and false."

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