On Friday, December 8, 2023, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended attorney J. Antonio Florence from practicing law for two years. The court found that Mr. Florence violated several rules of professional conduct related to representing criminal defense clients.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of J. Antonio Florence,” with case no. 2023-B-0592.

The charges cited Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.5(f)(5), 8.1(a), 8.4(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d). 

The disciplinary case stemmed from formal charges brought by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) against Mr. Florence in January 2021. The charges involved misconduct occurring between 2014-2017 related to his representation of four different clients. Specifically, Mr. Florence was accused of neglecting a legal matter, failing to address fee disputes in four cases, making false statements during the disciplinary investigation process, and being found in contempt of court.

According to the court records, on April 23, 2014, Mr. Florence was paid $4,100 to represent Keddrick Kennon in a criminal matter in Webster Parish but failed to appear for the client’s April 2015 trial, neglecting the legal matter. He also refused to refund any portion of the fee. In another matter, in 2016, Burney Davis hired and paid Mr. Florence $7,650 to replace a different attorney but Florence was discharged less than a month later for failure to communicate. He did not refund any portion of the unearned fee.

In another case, Orya Harris hired Mr. Florence on August 16, 2016, to represent her brother with a $5,000 fixed fee but he failed to appear for several hearings, leading to his discharge. During the ODC’s investigation, Mr. Florence produced a fake $10,000 invoice. Finally, in 2017 Mr. Florence withdrew from representing Cordero James due to a conflict of interest but did not address the unearned fee dispute.

After a two-day hearing in June 2021 and considering briefs from both sides, the hearing committee and disciplinary board recommended Mr. Florence be suspended for two years with some time deferred. Both sides objected and the case went before the Supreme Court. In its December 8, 2023, ruling, the Supreme Court suspended Mr. Florence’s law license for two years, finding he violated duties to clients and the legal system.

The Disposition states:

“Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and the disciplinary board, and considering the record, briefs, and oral argument, it is ordered that J. Antonio Florence, Louisiana Bar Roll number 32037, be and he hereby is suspended from the practice of law for one year and one day.”

According to avvo.com, Mr, Florence is a criminal defense attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana. He acquired his law license in Louisiana in 2008. 

A copy of the original filing can be found here.