BRADENTON -- A Bradenton attorney has been permanently disbarred from practicing law in Florida after being found in contempt of court and failing to respond to a Florida Supreme Court order, according to the Florida Bar.
The Florida Supreme Court issued the order Dec. 5 to permanently disbar James Edward Rawe Jr. when he continued to practice law after having been suspended.
Rawe was suspended by a Florida Supreme Court order dated April 15 after being found in contempt when he failed to respond to a court order to show cause for complaints filed against him in 2013.
Rawe, who has practiced law since 1993, declined comment on his disbarment.
On May 13-14, 2013, the Florida Bar received two complaints about Rawe, according to Florida Bar docu
ments. Rawe did not respond to the subsequent letters or notices regarding the complaints.
Rawe did return one call to the assigned investigator in regard to documents the investigator had tried to serve him. The investigator left the documents outside Rawe's home as directed, but Rawe failed to respond.
As a result, Rawe was found in contempt by the Supreme Court of Florida and ordered suspended 30 days from April 15, during which he needed to close his practice and not take any new business.
On May 13, Rawe submitted a substitution of counsel, taking on a criminal case and then appeared in court May 19 on the defendant's behalf, according to records. Rawe failed to notify the presiding judge of his suspension and claimed he had provided the judge with a copy of the order when he had not.
On May 20, a Florida Bar investigator contacted another judge of Rawe's suspension. When Rawe appeared in the judge's court, he was told he could not appear as the attorney of record. Rawe claimed to have given the judge a copy of the order but he had not, according to records.
At the time of his permanent disbarment, Rawe had already been disbarred for misappropriating client funds and failing to maintain trust accounts and records in accordance with Bar rules.
The complaint from Rawe's initial disbarment came from a 2011 divorce case, according to the formal complaint filed by the Florida Bar. Rawe received funds from the client's previous attorney and placed them in a trust account but failed to leave them in the trust, violating regulations. The funds were moved into his operating account prior to being used for expenses or Rawe earning them.
"The amount Respondent paid himself exceeded the total billed for fees and costs," the complaint states.
Additionally. the complaint stated Rawe had not paid all costs at the time he had claimed he had. He also failed to produce all trust records subpoenaed by the court.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.