-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The Florida Bar has filed a complaint with the Florida Supreme Court against attorney John Stemberger, accusing him of violating legal rules of conduct regarding his handling of the Rifqa Bary case. Rifqa Bary was the Muslim girl who converted to Christianity and then ran away from her Ohio home claiming that she was an intended victim of an honor killing. She was returned to Ohio and placed into the custody of Franklin County Children Services, until her 18th birthday on 10 August 2010.
She became a cause célèbre for right wing evangelicals.
The lawyer for Rifqa’s parents, Omar Tarazi, has filed a $10 million lawsuit in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, against anti-Muslim zealot Pamela Geller, blogger for Atlas Shrugs, and John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council.
Now the Florida Bar has added to Stemberger’s woes alleging:
- He went on Fox News four times and wrongly stated or implied in interviews that he was Rifqa Bary’s attorney in the girl’s Ohio custody case.
- In national television interviews, accused Omar Tarazi, the attorney for Bary’s parents, of being paid by organizations associated with terrorists based solely on a Facebook article and a blog posting.
- Posted on his law firm’s website a letter to the editor wrongly indicating that he was Bary’s attorney.
- Posted on his firm’s website unredacted versions of documents in the confidential Florida custody case involving Bary.
On his website, Stemberger touts his high ethical rating from Martindale-Hubble.
The religious right is spinning this as an attempt to silence criticism of Islam. The delusional criticizing the delusional.
17 thoughts on “Florida Bar Files Complaint”
Would have been nice if Mr. Turley had done a follow-up. The Bar had to drop the complaint against Stemberger because there was absolutely nothing to it. The only delusional entity here was and is The Florida Bar, as it is now going after a lawyer whose blog has helped clean up the corrupt Broward County bench. If this isn’t First Amendment speech, nothing is.
Very well, that well comes to an end.
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It was dark when I woke. This is a ray of.
Why did the Court not appoint a guardian ad litem for Riqfa, and tell Mr. Stemberger to hit the bricks?
“The Florida Bar is the agency responsible for attorney regulation in the State of Florida. Complaints are usually initiated by private parties, but can be filed by the Bar directly. If probable cause is found to pursue disciplinary proceedings, the matter is referred to a circuit judge to make findings and recommend discipline, ranging from reprimand through disbarment. The court’s ruling is then submitted to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can accept the recommendation, reject it or modify it. Its ruling is final.”
Thank you for this explanation Mike Appleton…
It is now considered good practice to send a client a multi-page letter outlining the terms of engagement, which the client has to sign and return. It is a definite turn-off to the client. A friend of mine retained a lawyer and showed me the letter he had sent her. It was totally one sided and seemed to create an adversarial relationship from the get go. In house lawyers always send engagement letters to outhouse lawyers.
If this girl was a minor, how could she have retained a lawyer without her parents’ agreement? She lacked the legal competance to enter into any contract.
The Florida Bar is the agency responsible for attorney regulation in the State of Florida. Complaints are usually initiated by private parties, but can be filed by the Bar directly. If probable cause is found to pursue disciplinary proceedings, the matter is referred to a circuit judge to make findings and recommend discipline, ranging from reprimand through disbarment. The court’s ruling is then submitted to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can accept the recommendation, reject it or modify it. Its ruling is final.
My opinion is that Mr. Stemberger grabbed an opportunity to wage a religious war against Islam. The child had run away from home in Ohio and was living in Orlando in the home of an evangelical pastor and his wife. Since she was a minor, she could not retain an attorney on her own. That can only be accomplished by her legal guardians (her parents) or by court order. Mr. Stemberger nonetheless presumed to act on the minor’s behalf solely at the behest of the pastor. The argument was that the child would be subjected to some sort of horrible Sharia penalty were she forced to return to Ohio.
The case became a media circus. I volunteer as a guardian ad litem for dependent and neglected children, so I am in juvenile court with some frequency. I happened to be in court on one occasion when a hearing was also being held in the Bary case. The courthouse was filled with people clutching Bibles in “support” of Mr. Stemberger’s efforts to save the child from the clutches of Muslim parents. The court ultimately, and predictably, determined that the child would have to be returned to the State of Ohio, but Mr. Stemberger milked the case for as much publicity as possible over several months. All in all, it was a disgusting display of religious bigotry and legal overreaching.
Is the central problem of being delusional being delusionally incapacitated in terms of understanding what is and is not delusion?
If one is delusional by falsely believing one is not delusional, what is the remedy?
Is this Madison Florida?
Hello Michelle from Madison 😉
The Florida Bar has no other cases to handle?
is it the high profile of the case that lit the fire under the Bars butt? and just a thought….as a non-lawyer…..I thought the Florida Bar IS the regulating agency for lawyers in the state of Florida???? This is how they regulate, THEY file a complaint with someone else? Why? To what purpose? If this lawyer is out of line, why are they not regulating him????
I thought I knew dysfunction….
The delusional criticizing the delusional…….
Well how can you tell?
This Stemberger character has some serious problems. He reminds me of that birher attorney,Orly Taitz(sp?). How can an attorney in his or her right mind go on TV and make accusations based on information from a Facebook page and a blog? These religious fanatics have to stop mixing religion with the law.
I’ve hired attorneys several times but they never sent me a contract defining our relationship.
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