Can An Attorney Be Disbarred When Mitigating Factors Are Common Problems ?
In Florida Bar v. Graham, 605 So. 2d 53, 53-54 (Fla. 1992), this Court disbarred an attorney who had converted funds from a client's settlement proceeds and then lied to the Bar about it in the context of an inquiry. Graham argued that disbarment was not warranted because of the existence of mitigating factors in his case, including a good faith effort at restitution, personal and emotional problems, the absence of a prior disciplinary record, and remorse. Id. at 55.
The Court concluded that these factors did not outweigh the presumption that disbarment was the appropriate remedy in Graham's case.
In so holding, this Court noted that "stressful familial and financial obligations are common problems.
However, we cannot excuse a lawyer's misappropriation of a client's funds and misrepresentations to cover up any wrongdoings as a means to solve life's problems. . . . Dishonesty and a lack of candor cannot be tolerated by a profession that relies on the truthfulness of its members." Id. at 56.