Today, The Ledger reported the disbarment of Cedric Lewis, a lawyer in Winter Haven. But the report, which implies that the disbarment is effective immediately, doesn’t tell the whole story. He has been suspended since 2009, and he consented to the disbarment, which effectively made the suspension permanent. The Ledger’s report is based on a Florida Bar press release, which describes his conduct thus:
“Cedric Eugene Lewis, … Winter Haven, disbarred effective retroactive to June 18, 2009, following a June 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Lewis was the subject of a Bar disciplinary proceeding stemming in part from an employee’s theft of funds from Lewis’ real estate trust account. Lewis failed to produce trust and financial documents pursuant to two Grievance Committee subpoenas. After a 2009 suspension, Lewis was required to provide the Bar with an affidavit verifying that he’d notified his clients, opposing counsel and certain courts of his suspension. Again, he failed to comply. Lewis was also ineligible to practice law due to CLER and other delinquencies.”
The entire story is described much more fully in the Consent to the disbarment signed by Mr. Lewis. Mr Lewis had been suspended from practicing before. In 2008, he entered into a consent judgment suspending him for 10 days after a complaint was filed by the Bar. The complaint alleged that he failed to communicate with a client about the status of a case and so lacked diligence in pursuing it that the court dismissed it. The complaint also alleged that he failed to properly supervise an employee who was alleged to have stolen $25,000 from his trust account.
After that, according to the most recent Consent and as described in a Notice of Noncompliance filed by the Bar, he refused to produce records related to his his trust account in response to subpoenas and inquiries by the 10th Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee. The committee had concerns about possible trust account problems. Mr. Lewis was suspended by Court order in June, 2009 after failing to produce the documents even after the Notice of Noncompliance was filed. That was the suspension referenced in the recent disbarment. As detailed in these various documents, it appears that Mr. Lewis denies that there have been any problems with his trust account after the employee theft was straightened out, but acknowledges that he refused to produce the documents subpoenaed in violation of Bar rules.
I had a transaction or two involving Mr. Lewis a number of years ago but do not otherwise know him. My only recollection from the experience is that he was pleasant.