A workers' compensation attorney was issued a 30-day suspension and sentenced to pay the costs to The Florida Bar for incorrectly subtitling his witness during a deposit and inadvertently giving advice to the witness to the opposing attorney.
In Florida Bar v. James a judge at the Florida Supreme Court found that attorney Derek Vashon James' witness, whom he texted while giving testimony over a telephone call, gave untrue, incomplete and misleading answers and recommended that he paid $ 2,800 in costs and was suspended for a month for his actions.
Mr. James, who represented an insurance company in a dispute over work compensation, was heard texting by the opposite lawyer during the filing of his witness, an adjuster, but claimed that he was only texting his daughter. When he later inadvertently texted advice intended for the adjuster to the plaintiff's lawyer, she stopped the testimony and asked the judge to ask Brown to produce the texts he sent under the deposit.
Although James claimed that he believed since the adjuster did not swear in the testimony that he did not believe the communication with her was inappropriate, the judge in the trial found that some of the texts could constitute "witness coaching" and The Florida Bar filed a complaint against Mr. James,
Although two witnesses testified that James had a reputation for honesty and justice, the judge found that James was "dishonest by secretly coaching the witness on what to say and by lying to the opposite counsel about his subtitling." and should be given a month-long time and financial penalty.