Florida Record

Monday, November 18, 2019

Ocala attorney publicly reprimanded after neglecting client matters during assistant's misconduct

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Oct 28, 2019

Courtroom sweep

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Ocala attorney Christina D’Amato Miller has been publicly reprimanded by publication following Oct. 3 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations she that occurred at the same time as her non-attorney assistant's misconduct, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

The state bar received several complaints earlier this year, according to the state bar's Oct. 24 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.

The complaints alleged "that Miller’s law office had neglected client matters and failed to adequately communicate with clients," the announcement said. "The complaints coincided with misconduct by Miller’s non-lawyer assistant. Miller proactively contacted clients to make restitution and attempt to rectify the matter."

In its single-page order, the Supreme Court approved the consent judgment reached between Miller and the state bar and ordered her to pay a little more than $2,244 in costs.

The consent judgment also included Miller's conditional guilty plea. The public reprimand will be administered by publication in Southern Reporter.

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 Miller's public reprimand.

Miller was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 3, 2004, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Miller's bar profile.

Miller waived his right to have the matter considered by a grievance committee and stipulated to probable cause in the case, according to the consent judgment.

Some of the clients who filed complaints with the state bar reported that Miller's non-attorney assistance held herself out as a lawyer, according to the consent judgment.

"[Miller] failed to conduct a background check on her nonlawyer assistant," the consent judgment said, noting that Miller had personnel and office manuals on hand that provide guidelines for non-attorney employees.

"[Miller]'s non-lawyer assistant disregarded office policy and took calculated steps to hide her misconduct from Miller, including frequently communicating with clients through her personal cell phone in violation of [Miller]'s law office policy," the judgment said. "When [Miller] realized the extent of the non-lawyer's actions, [Miller] terminated the non-lawyer's employment."

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