Florida Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Jacksonville attorney suspended over alleged mishandling of post-conviction matter


By Karen Kidd | Jul 29, 2019


TALLAHASSEE — Jacksonville attorney Earl Mayberry Johnson Jr. faces suspension following a July 11 Florida Supreme Court order over his alleged lengthy mishandling of a post conviction matter, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar and other court documents.

The state bar announced July 26 Johnson's discipline and the court's order.

During a more than three-year gap in any action in the post-conviction matter, "there was a deplorable lack of communication" between Johnson and his client, the referee's report filed in the disciplinary proceedings said.

The referee's report also noted "a lack of diligence in following through both with his client and the court. The record also shows examples of [Johnson], on at least one occasion, giving misleading information about his plans to [the client], competence issues and, once the bar complaint was filed, misconduct."

In its two-page order, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed before suspending Johnson for six months and ordered him to pay $2,090 in restitution to his client and almost $7,216 in costs.

Johnson's suspension was 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 high court's order. Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires.

Johnson was admitted to the bar in Florida on July 19, 1994, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Johnson's state bar profile.

Allegations against Johnson stem from his representation a Florida state prison inmate serving a 30-year sentence following his March 2010, guilty plea to attempted second- degree murder with a deadly weapon as part of a negotiated plea deal, according to the 32-page referee's report.

The referee had "serious reservations" about the client's credibility "given the multitude of false statements" the client provided police shortly after the alleged attempted murder, to the court and the grievance committee, the report said.

Despite that, the referee also found long gaps during Johnson's representation of the client reflected his "lack of communication and diligence," the report said.

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