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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Florida Bar: Supreme Court reprimands two attorneys, another faces suspension in separate orders


By Karen Kidd | Jul 31, 2019

Divorce mallet

TALLAHASSEE — Longwood and Miami attorneys have been reprimanded and a Tampa attorney faces suspension following separate Florida Supreme Court orders, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

The disciplines and court orders were announced July 26 by the state bar.

Longwood attorney Michelle A. Barry has been publicly reprimanded following a July 18 Supreme Court order over allegations stemming from a divorce case, according to the announcement.

"In a divorce case, a client paid the fee by credit card but soon after changed her mind about proceeding and asked Barry for a refund," the announcement said. "In the subsequent fee dispute, Barry asked the client to sign a settlement agreement for the return of the unused cost deposit that included an improper clause requiring the client to waive her rights to file a bar complaint."

Barry ultimately refunded the full amount of the unused cost deposit, according to the state bar's announcement.

"In a second case, after a client filed a complaint with the bar, Barry sent the client emails with disparaging remarks," the announcement said.

Tampa attorney Jennifer P. Alessi faces suspension following a July 17 Supreme Court order after she was found in contempt of a court order, according to the announcement.

"Alessi did not respond to the bar's request for trust account records," the announcement said. "After the bar filed a petition for contempt and order to show cause, the Florida Supreme Court issued an order to show cause, which Alessi failed to respond to. The court then held her in contempt."

Alessi's suspension will be effective 30 days from the date of the court's order.

Miami attorney Edward Alan Martinez has been publicly reprimanded following a July 18 Supreme Court order and allegations stemming from a foreclosure matter, according to the announcement.

"Martinez charged an impermissible fee in a foreclosure case and failed to comply with technical requirements for managing trust accounts," the announcement said. "He voluntarily attended a trust account workshop to avoid future trust account problems."

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