On Thursday, June 15, 2023, the Supreme Court of Florida announced that attorney RoseMarie Feller was reprimanded for violating the rules of professional conduct by engaging in improper business practices with a non-lawyer.
The case is entitled “The Florida Bar v. RoseMarie Feller” with case no. SC2022-1779.
In a complaint dated December 20, 2022, the Florida Bar has filed a complaint against attorney RoseMarie Feller, alleging various violations of professional conduct. The complaint stated that Feller engaged in improper business practices with non-lawyer Bernard P. Mosco, including forming a law firm where Mosco had an ownership interest, which is not allowed by the rules. Feller and Mosco shared office space and expenses, and Mosco was involved in handling finances and business matters for the law firm. The complaint also accused Feller of threatening to present criminal charges against Mosco in a civil matter and failing to ensure that Mosco’s conduct was compatible with professional obligations.
The complaint states:
“Respondent testified that she and Mosco had an agreement to share the expenses of running the office, such as sharing the expense of a copier, printer, electricity, and furniture for the waiting room. Respondent permitted Mosco to have business cards for her law firm listing him as the “Director of Finance.” Mosco was responsible for the bookkeeping for the respondent’s law firm but was not compensated monetarily for this service. Mosco contracted on behalf of the respondent’s law firm with a company in California that provided leads for personal injury claims.”
The complaint continues:
“Respondent later clarified that the allegedly misappropriated or missing checks were written to her by clients as fee payments, that the missing cash may have been for fee payments, and no client funds were misappropriated. Respondent did not have a trust account at the time and the only account to which Mosco had access was the law firm’s operating account, which respondent closed in order to prevent Mosco from further access to it.”
In her answer, Attorney Feller admitted some of the allegations in the complaint but denied others. Feller also presented several affirmative defenses, asserting that she acted in good faith and that certain rule violations cited by the Florida Bar require clear and convincing evidence of intentional misconduct, which she believed the Bar could not meet. Feller requested that the Bar prove each allegation with clear and convincing evidence.
The answer states:
“As an eleventh affirmative defense, the Respondent asserts that The Rule violation cited by The Florida Bar [R. Regulating Fla. Bar 4-8.6(d)] is contradicted by the fact that Respondent created Feller Law PLLC to correct her mistake immediately upon learning of the mistake and just a few weeks after the first entity was created. Respondent did not intentionally engage in any conduct that allegedly violated such rule and that the Bar will be unable to meet this burden.”
The answer continues:
“As a final affirmative defense, the Respondent asserts that the allegations and factual conclusions referenced by the Bar in its complaint cannot be accepted as conclusive proof of the matters referenced therein and that the Bar must prove each and every allegation by clear and convincing evidence. See for example The Florida Bar v. Calvo, 630 So. 2d 548 (Fla. 1993); The Florida Bar v. Vining, 707 So. 2d 670 (Fla. 1998).”
The Supreme Court accepted the referee’s report without any objections and gave the respondent a reprimand.
The Disposition states:
“The Court approves the uncontested referee’s report and reprimands the respondent. Respondent is further directed to attend The Florida Bar’s Ethics School under the terms and conditions set forth in the report and consent judgment.”
Ms. Feller attended the St. Thomas University School of Law, graduating in 2001. She practices in Sanford, Florida. She is licensed in Florida. Her fo can be found on martindale.com.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.