FL Judge rejects plea deal for attorneys who set up opposing counsel for DUI arrest

This is a follow-up from my post from Wednesday about the three Florida lawyers who set up their opposing counsel in a high profile case for a DUI arrest.

From the Tampa Bay Times (Anna Phillips reporting):

Calling the punishments “disproportionate and unacceptable,” a Pinellas judge Thursday rejected plea agreements for three Tampa lawyers accused of orchestrating the drunken driving arrest of an opposing lawyer.

Pinellas-Pasco Senior Judge W. Douglas Baird, presiding over the disciplinary proceeding, said in a written decision that the sanctions outlined in the agreement between the lawyers and the Florida Bar do not correspond to the serious allegations they face. He called for a trial with “actual testimony with vigorous cross-examination” β€” even if the lawyers refuse to say a word on the stand.

Accused by the Bar of misconduct, unfairness to opposing counsel and disrupting court, the three lawyers from the firm of Adams & Diaco agreed to sanctions that would allow them to avert a week-long trial. Under the terms of the deal, Stephen Diaco, 46, would surrender his law license, an offer designed to protect the firm where he is a partner. Robert Adams, 45, and Adam Filthaut, 40, agreed to 91-day suspensions, after which they would have to secure the state Supreme Court’s permission to practice law again.

It was the lighter sanctions for Adams and Filthaut that irked the judge, who singled that out for criticism in his decision. But because each half of the deal was contingent on the other β€” “all or nothing,” as the attorneys put it β€” the judge rejected it in its entirety. He set a trial date of March 31.

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