Florida Record

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Winter Haven attorney admonished after not properly replacing counsel of record in divorce matter


By Karen Kidd | Mar 5, 2020

Wikimedia Commons/North Charleston

TALLAHASSEE — Winter Haven attorney Sonya Charmaine Davis was admonished earlier this month following a Florida Supreme Court order over allegations of mishandling how she was supposed to replace counsel in a divorce matter, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Davis, who was hired to replace the counsel of record in a client's pending dissolution of marriage, sent a joint motion for substitution of counsel to the counsel of record, who declined to sign the motion without a hearing," the state bar said in its Feb. 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "After three months Davis had not followed through, so the client terminated Davis’ representation.”

Davis also allegedly failed to respond to state bar's written inquiries, according to the announcement.

In its single-page order issued Feb. 13, the Supreme Court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before admonishing Davis and ordering her to pay a little more than $2,115 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 Davis's admonishment.

Davis was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 20, 2001, according to her profile at the state bar website. Davis had no prior history of discipline, according to the consent judgment reached between Davis and the state bar. The consent judgment also includes Davis's conditional guilty plea.

The client had hired Davis to replace another attorney as counsel of record in the client's then pending dissolution of marriage, according to the consent judgment.

Davis sent the other attorney a motion for substitution of counsel but the other attorney declined to sign the motion without a hearing.

Davis did not further pursue the substitution but maintained "that during this period she began drafting documents related to the dissolution in preparation of her substitution as counsel," the consent judgment said.

The client ultimately terminated Davis' representation, the other attorney filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, a motion the other attorney set for hearing, but subsequently filed a stipulation of counsel with a third attorney who ultimately took over the client's case.

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