TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Longtime Longwood attorney James R. Palmer has been voluntarily disbarred following an Aug. 29 Florida Supreme Court order over alleged trust account irregularities, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Palmer, the only attorney with signatory authority for the firm's trust accounts," the state bar said in its Sept. 26 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
Palmer "failed to maintain the minimum trust account records or follow the minimum trust account procedures as required, resulting in client trust funds being used for purposes other than those intended," the announcement said/
In its two-page order, state high court approved Palmer's uncontested petition for disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Granting the petition served to dismiss all pending disciplinary charges against Palmer.
Palmer's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order. The court also ordered Palmer to pay a little more than $28,500 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 Palmer's disbarment.
Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Palmer was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 22, 1984, according to his profile at the state bar website. Palmer has no prior history discipline in Florida, according to his petition.
Charges that had been pending against Palmer stemmed from a compliance audit of his trust accounts initiated by the state bar in January 2017 after receiving an insufficient funds notice.
"The audit was also the result of information provided to the bar by [Palmer]'s former law partner, who was not a signatory on the trust accounts, regarding information he received from clients pertaining to the lack of timely disbursements by the firm," the petition said.