Former Judge John Lakin was suspended for accepting baseball tickets from lawyers before him in court.
TALLAHASSEE – Palmetto attorneys Scott Brian Kallins and Melton Harry Little were suspended following July 18 Florida Supreme Court orders for allegedly giving Tampa Bay Rays tickets to a judge presiding over their client's case, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
The attorneys with Kallins, Little and Delgado were suspended for 18 months, effective 30 days from the date of the court's order, a July 26 state bar announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order said. After their suspension, the two will be on probation for a year and will be required to complete a state bar practice and professionalism enhancement program, the announcement and the referee's report indicated..
Both attorneys were ordered to pay approximately $5,400 each in costs.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Lakin, who had accepted the tickets to the Rays ballgames from Kallins and Little, also was suspended by the Supreme Court following an order handed down in late April.
Lakin announced his retirement from the bench in March 2016 while the matter was under investigation, a posting in the Brandenton Herald said.
Kallins and Little were before Lakin's bench in 2015 on behalf of their client, who was suing Walmart in a slip-and-fall case, according to the state bar's announcement and the referee's report.
"After the jury returned a verdict for the defendant, they offered tickets to a professional baseball game to the presiding judge, which he accepted," the state bar's announcement said. "They soon after filed a motion for a new trial. After the judge accepted a second set of tickets to another baseball game, he granted the motion for a new trial."
Formal charges were filed by the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission against Lakin the following year, according to the announcement.
Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not the effective dates of Kallins' and Little's suspensions.
Kallins and Little were admitted to the bar in Florida on Nov. 25, 1985, and Oct. 16, 1986, respectively, according to their separate profiles at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on their state bar profiles.