Florida Immigration Attorney Disbarred for Continuing to Practice Law While Suspended

Carlo Jean-Joseph, a Florida immigration attorney, was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court recently.  The Court found Jean-Joseph in contempt of court for continuing to practice law even while his law license was suspended.

Mr. Jean-Joseph’s problems began at the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The Eleventh Circuit notified the Florida Bar that Mr. Jean-Joseph had filed 62 immigration appeals in the course of 1.5 years, but that 32 of those appeals had been dismissed for lack of prosecution.  According to the Court, those cases were dismissed because Mr. Jean-Joseph had failed to file briefs and record excerpts. Although Mr. Jean-Joseph had filed motions to reinstate 24 of the 32 dismissed cases, 10 such motions were denied for the attorney’s failure to follow the Court’s rules.

Further investigation by the Court revealed that a total of 43 petitions for review, out of 85 filed by Mr. Jean-Joseph, had been dismissed for failure to prosecute or failure to file timely notices of appeal.  The Court prohibited Mr. Jean-Joseph from practicing before the immigration court for 3 months, compelled him to attend classes and publicly reprimanded and admonished him.

During his suspension, the Department of Homeland Security sought his suspension before the Board of Immigration Appeals and lower immigration courts.  When Mr. Jean-Joseph moved for reinstatement, DHS opposed it, claiming that the attorney had appeared in at least 5 separate deportation proceedings in Miami while he was suspended.  Mr. Jean-Joseph did not contest this allegation.  The BIA suspended Mr. Jean-Joseph for 120 days, prohibiting him from practicing before any immigration court and/or at USCIS.

In 2008, Mr. Jean-Joseph was suspended for nine months for dishonesty, fraud deciet or misrepresentation.  On April 9, 2009, he received another suspension for failing to appear at an immigration hearing and failing to timely file a motion for rehearing.

The Florida Supreme Court chose to disbar Mr. Jean-Joseph from the practice of law in that state after finding that he continued to practice law while serving a near 5 year suspension.  The court found that he had collected a fee to handle an immigration case, failed to keep the client informed of action taken on the case and subsequently caused the client to lose temporary protected status to stay in the U.S.