Two years ago, the Florida State Supreme Court suspended Jeffrey Norkin from practicing law for what it found to be grossly unprofessional behavior in court. Yeah, well, Norkin continued to practice law and continued to exhibit grossly unprofessional behavior while doing so. So now the Supreme Court has decided to just disbar him permanently. In fact, it found that Norkin's behavior was so bad it "sullied" the entire profession of law.
Norkin had previously been disciplined by the court in 2003 for his behavior, but apparently didn't get the message. His latest troubles started while representing a defendant in a case involving partners in a Homestead business.
Norkin would act professionally when things seemed to be going his way in court, but would grow loud and boisterous when things didn't. Norkin's behavior wasn't so much obnoxious for what he would say, but how he would say it. He'd raise his voice, use an angry tone, constantly interrupt others, barrage judges with questions, and would often accuse judges of favoring opposing counsel.
He even accused the first judge, Ronald Dresnick, of being in an illegal conspiratorial relationship with the plaintiff. Dresnick grew so tired of Norkin's behavior that he eventually recused himself from the case. In fact, in the original suspension the Supreme Court, some of Dresnick's exhausted quotes while trying to deal with Norkin were collected:
- "Excuse me, sir. I've had enough with you. You only like it when it's going your way and you don't see it any other way."
- "I am finding these hearings with you extremely difficult. You talk very loud. I am telling you at every hearing. You are very angry; you make me angry. I don't like angry lawyers."
- "I am a low-volume, low-key guy until I get pissed off. You know what pisses me off? People coming in here and raising their voices at me."
- "You come in like a bull in a china shop. You do it every time. I don't know if you are trying to piss me off or what, but you do it."
Eventually, Judge Valerie Manno Schurr took over, but she too soon grew tired of Norkin:
- "I'm done. You do this to me every single time you are in front of me, whether it is in motion calendar, in my office, or it's a special set or today. You yell at me and you scream at me, and I'm asking you to please stop. I'm done."
- "You yell at me every time we have a hearing."
- "Oh my God, I'm done. Goodbye. Not doing this. Not going to be questioned by you. You do this to me every single time."
While suspending Norkin in 2013, the court used it as a warning to other lawyers to act more professionally in court.
Norkin was made to go up to Tallahassee to receive a public reprimand, but the court later found that he admitted that he openly stared down and smirked at each justice during the reprimand.
Norkin was also required to immediately recuse himself from all legal practice and was required to notify all clients, opposing counsel or co-counsel, and all courts involved in any ongoing cases that he had been suspended.
Turns out that Norkin didn't do that.
Norkin continued to e-mail and call a client about a case, something the client admitted, and also e-mailed an opposing lawyer about a case. Norkin also didn't properly provide documentation to the Florida bar that he had notified others of his suspension.
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In e-mails with a lawyer for the Florida bar, Norkin “referred to bar counsel as ‘evil’ and ‘despicable’; called the proceedings against him ‘the most unjust act in judicial history’; stated that bar counsel had no conscience; and stated, ‘I’m preparing the lawsuit against you. Keep an eye out,'" according to the court decision.
So the Supreme Court just decided to disbar him completely and wrote a blistering opinion.
"Moreover, given Norkin’s continuation of his egregious behavior following his suspension and during the administration of the public reprimand, we conclude that he will not change his pattern of misconduct," wrote the court. "Indeed, his filings in the instant case continue to demonstrate his disregard for this Court, his unrepentant attitude, and his intent to continue his defiant and contemptuous conduct that is demeaning to this Court, the Court’s processes, and the profession of attorneys as a whole. Such misconduct cannot and will not be tolerated as it sullies the dignity of judicial proceedings and