The disbarment trial of South Florida plaintiff insurance lawyer Scot Strems began last week and resumes this morning. He’s been under suspension by the Florida Supreme Court since early June, following a filing by The Florida Bar alleging Strems “sits at the head of a vast campaign of unprofessional, unethical, and fraudulent conduct that now infects courts and communities across the state.”
Strems’ trial is being presided by Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Dawn Denaro in Miami, who served as referee in a three-day hearing in July on his unsuccessful motion to dismiss the suspension. The Circuit has been televising the proceedings live over its YouTube Channel, where you can also view last week’s recorded courtroom action.
The Florida Bar counsel Derek Womak, in his opening statement last week, said Strems’ record is “an abject mess that has resulted in untold harm to clients and tremendous strain on judicial resources, the cost of which is ultimately borne by the tax dollars and insurance premiums paid by the public. What we have is chaos, tilting toward lawlessness. That is what the Respondent asks you to accept as the permissible practice of law.”
Strems’ counsel Ben Kuehne, in his opening statement that followed, said “The evidence will reflect that fewer than 1% of cases involved any suggestion of improper conduct, spread across a number of lawyers who may have made mistakes, for which Mr. Strems and those lawyers accepted full responsibility and have repented and reformed their conduct and the conduct of the firm. …The insurance industry kept books on the Strems’ lawyers to poison judges that the firm engaged in impropriety…and gave information to The Florida Bar to initiate and pursue this case and other cases and attempted to misread and mislead the entirety of the work by Scot Strems and his law firm.”
LMA Newsletter of 9-14-20