The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously decided to disbar attorney Anthony Wayne Blackburn this week and the result would seem inevitable given the accusations against Blackburn of trading lower fees for sex with two incarcerated women. What is surprising is that the Florida bar actually wanted only to suspend Blackburn for the misconduct, a shockingly low penalty for an attorney accused of a shocking abuse of the attorney-client relationship.
Blackburn was arrested in 2016 and accused of soliciting sexual relations with an incarcerated client by depositing money in her bank account. He was also accused of soliciting sex with another woman by offering discounted or free legal services. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge.
Despite his guilty plea and seeking treatment, Blackburn still committed a fundamental abuse of his professional relationships. Moreover, he exploited a client’s difficult situation to seek to coerce sexual relations. Yet, the referee recommended an 18-month suspension. It is hard to see such a suspension as fitting this level of what the Florida Supreme Court described as “sever moral turpitude.”
Here is the opinion: Florida Supreme Court/Blackburn decision