On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, the Supreme Court of Florida received a complaint filed by The Florida Bar against attorney Michael J. Cortes. According to the complaint, Cortes is accused of violating several Rules of Professional Conduct in his representation of a client in a post-dissolution of marriage case.

The case is entitled “The Florida Bar v. Michael J. Cortes.”

The charges cited Florida Rules of Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.1, 4-1.3, 4-1.8(a), 4-3.3(a)(1), 4-3.4(a), 4-3.4(d), 4-8.4(c), and  4-8.4(d).

The complaint alleges that Cortes was hired by the client on December 12, 2019, to represent him in the ongoing case, where the client was facing allegations of contempt for violating the terms of the marital settlement agreement.

Cortes was aware at the time of hiring that the client had a deposition scheduled for December 16, 2019, but falsely told opposing counsel he was unaware of the deposition. Cortes then advised the client via email not to attend the deposition despite the counsel’s warnings. This resulted in the client being sanctioned by the court for failure to appear.

On January 22, 2020, Cortes attempted to withdraw from representing the client and settle any potential malpractice claims by having the client waive his right to file a bar grievance. A settlement was reached but overturned by the court in 2023. The client then filed a civil suit against Cortes for malpractice, alleging he provided incompetent representation.

The complaint alleges Cortes violated rules regarding competence, diligence, prohibitions on false statements to tribunals, engagement in conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation, and entering into improper business transactions with clients. Specifically, it cites Cortes advising the client to skip the deposition despite warnings, making false statements to opposing counsel, and attempting to condition a fee refund on the client giving up his right to file a grievance.

The complaint states:

“WHEREFORE, The Florida Bar prays respondent will be appropriately disciplined in accordance with the provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as amended.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Cortes is a divorce & separation attorney in Altamonte Springs, Florida. He attended the Florida A&M University, College of Law. He acquired his law license in Florida in 2009.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.