HOLMES BEACH – Attorney Charles “Chuck” Webb is facing a 60-day suspension from his ability to practice law in Florida.
On Oct. 10, Webb entered a conditional guilty plea for consent judgment with the Supreme Court of Florida. Pending Supreme Court approval, Webb will be eligible for automatic reinstatement with the Florida Bar after his suspension is served. If the Supreme Court rejects the consent judgment, the matter will be retried.
If the anticipated suspension takes effect, Webb’s partner, Dennis Wells, will run the Webb & Wells law firm in Webb’s absence, during which he would not be allowed to appear in court or have any contact with clients, but could still advise Wells.
“Based upon the following referenced conduct, Respondent (Webb) admits he is guilty of violating the following rules regulating the Florida Bar: Rule 4-1.7, conflict of interest; current clients; Rule 4-1.8, conflict of interest; prohibited and other transactions; and Rule 4.3-1, meritorious claims and contentions,” the consent judgment states.
The consent judgment says Webb shall cease efforts to foreclose liens against the homesteaded property of any client. This references Webb’s efforts to place liens on clients’ properties when assisting them with foreclosure actions initiated by banks and lending institutions.
Webb represented David and Jane Guy in a $787,500 foreclosure action initiated by Aurora Loan Services in 2009. The consent judgment says Webb purported to execute a lien agreement of his own with the Guys but was unable to provide a signed copy of that agreement.
Webb agreed to the terms specified in the consent judgment, but he said last week he disagrees with the Bar’s position on liens as a means of recouping legal fees owed to his law firm. He also said the Guy’s primary residence was not homesteaded because they were not U.S. citizens.
Webb acknowledged that he made an inadvertent mistake when he failed to include required disclosure language in the attorney employment agreement he entered into with the Guys. Webb said he provided verbal notice to the Guys, but the signed agreement did not state, “This is an important legal document; you are encouraged to have it reviewed by independent counsel.”
That form was later updated and for years has included the language required by the Florida Bar as the result of a rule change enacted in 2006.
The judgment calls for a one-year probationary period that requires Webb to attend the Florida Bar’s Ethics School. His office will be subjected to a mandatory office procedure and record keeping analysis and Webb must reimburse the Florida Bar $3,945 for costs incurred.
David Guy has since passed away and Webb does not think anyone from the Guy family filed the complaint that led to the Bar’s Grievance Committee’s initial findings.
“I had to settle because my attorney was unprepared to try the case and the issues we knew of,” Webb said.
When asked about the potential impact on his professional reputation, Webb said, “It’s embarrassing. You believe you’ve done everything in accordance with the Bar rules, except for the admitted written notice that was not provided but given verbally. The people who know me, I would think they still have faith in my honesty and abilities, but people that are new to the area may not come to me. The violations were not violations of a lack of honesty or the lack of protecting a client. Like any other businessman, I was trying to collect money admittedly owed to my business.”
Webb said he will discontinue his past practice of representing clients that don’t have the ability to pay as they go.
According to Florida Bar records, Webb has not been subjected to any previous disciplinary action.
Webb previously served multiple terms as an Anna Maria City Commissioner.