Florida Record

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Retired, ailing West Palm Beach attorney voluntarily disbarred after allegedly doing little work


By Karen Kidd | Oct 1, 2019

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Longtime West Palm Beach attorney Richard Walter Springer has been voluntarily disbarred following an Sept. 12 Florida Supreme Court order ahead of allegations involving multiple client matters, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Springer submitted a petition for disciplinary revocation of admission based upon allegations that he took fees from his clients and did not perform any significant legal work," the state bar said in its Sept. 26 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "He did not refund any of the unearned legal fees."

In its two-page order, the state Supreme Court approved Springer'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 Springer.

Springer had advised the court of his retirement "for health reasons", which meant his disbarment was effective immediately, according to the order. The court also ordered Springer to pay nearly $1,856 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 Springer's disbarment.

Springer was admitted to the bar in Florida on May 10, 1974, according to his profile at the state bar website.

Charges that were pending against Springer stemmed from "four distinct allegations of excessive fees for failing to complete the defense of four criminal matters due to [Springer]'s health," Springer's petition said. The petition referred to Springer's 10-week hospitalization that begin in March 2016 and his subsequent diagnosis with pulmonary fibrosis.

"His current medications render him incapacitated for at least two hours every day," the petition said. "He is often extremely tired and dizzy, and falls asleep often. He is primarily home bound."

Springer had been able to close out his practice by having other attorneys complete cases but be had been "unable to effectuate a transfer' the four criminal cases over which disciplinary proceedings commenced, the petition said.

Two of the cases "were relatively new" but the other two "had substantial legal services rendered wherein the bulk of the legal fees paid were in fact earned," the petition said.

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