On Thursday, February 22, 2024, the Supreme Court of Florida disbarred attorney Marie Gerard Gaetane Hernandez. The Court approved the uncontested referee report recommending disbarment in the disciplinary case.

The case is entitled “The Florida Bar v. Marie Gerard Gaetane Hernandez,” with case number SC2023-1001.

According to the report filed by Referee David M. Frank, Hernandez was previously suspended from practice in Texas for one year followed by a two-year probationary suspension in May 2022.

The Texas suspension stemmed from Hernandez neglecting a legal matter, failing to communicate with a client about the status of their case, not returning unearned fees, and not responding to disciplinary authorities as required. During her Texas suspension, Hernandez was found to have committed similar misconduct related to another client matter.

Hernandez did not participate or respond to the Florida Bar’s Complaint for Reciprocal Discipline seeking disbarment. A final hearing was held on November 16, 2023, where Hernandez again failed to appear or defend the allegations.

Referee Frank found Hernandez violated Texas rules of professional conduct related to competence, communication with clients, safekeeping of client property, and cooperation with disciplinary investigations. As an attorney licensed in Florida, Hernandez was subject to reciprocal discipline based on her Texas misconduct and suspension.

In recommending disbarment, Referee Frank considered Florida Bar rules and case law precedent involving conversion of client funds, lack of diligence, lack of candor, failure to maintain personal integrity, and violations of professional duties. Aggravating factors included a pattern of misconduct across multiple client matters and Hernandez’s substantial experience practicing law.

The Supreme Court’s order gave Hernandez 30 days to close out her practice and notify the Court if she did not need that time based on having no existing clients. She was also prohibited from accepting any new clients. The Court entered a judgment against Hernandez for $1,344.70 to cover costs incurred by the Bar in the disciplinary investigation and proceedings.

Hernandez’s conduct fits prior cases where attorneys were disbarred for complete abandonment of clients, failing to participate in disciplinary investigations, and discipline in another state jurisdiction. Her disbarment is now final, prohibiting her from practicing law in Florida.

According to LinkedIn, Ms. Marie Gerard Gaetane Hernandez earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law, graduating in 2010. Hernandez has been licensed to practice in Florida in 2012.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.