On November 20, 2023, The Florida Bar filed an emergency suspension petition in the Supreme Court of Florida against Attorney James Edward Leano seeking immediate relief under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The bar contends that Leano poses an imminent threat of serious harm to clients or the public based on the evidence presented in the affidavit of Staff Auditor Patrick M. Dougherty.

The case is entitled “The Florida Bar v. James Edward Leano,” with case no. 2023-70,419 (11N)(MES).

Leano is accused of misappropriating funds in violation of Chapter 5 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The bar’s investigation, supported by Dougherty’s affidavit, alleges that Leano mishandled a $40,000 settlement check from GEICO, intended for his client Esteban Moreno.

According to the petition, Leano deposited the settlement check into his trust account but failed to disburse the appropriate funds to medical providers and his client as outlined in the closing statement. The affidavit reveals that Leano’s trust account had a balance well below the required amount, indicating the misappropriation of at least $26,577.88 of client funds.

Despite multiple extensions for responding to a bar subpoena, Leano allegedly failed to provide any documents, further raising concerns about his compliance with professional conduct rules. The bar argues that Leano’s actions violate several Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, including those related to safekeeping property, dishonesty, and failure to respond to official inquiries.

In light of the serious allegations, The Florida Bar respectfully requests the Supreme Court of Florida to issue an order suspending Leano from the practice of law until further notice. The petition also outlines specific actions Leano must take immediately and within 30 days to comply with the court’s order and protect the interests of his clients and the public.

According to Avvo, Mr. Leano is a car accident attorney in Coconut Grove, Florida. He graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1998 and obtained his law license in Florida in the same year.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.