Miami Beach

He’s a persistent lawyer — and that’s why he can no longer be one

Everyone wants a lawyer who won’t quit, who makes every argument possible for his side. But the refusal of Miami Beach lawyer Erwin Rosenberg to stop practicing got him banned from practicing law in Florida.

Rosenberg was suspended by the state Supreme Court for ignoring opposition motions granted during a case. Then, Rosenberg was disbarred for ignoring the suspension. Finally, while disbarred, Rosenberg was disbarred permanently for ignoring his disbarment.

He said the punishment violated his U.S. Constitution First Amendment rights.

The New England School of Law graduate had been a Florida Bar member since 1999 with a clean discipline record until, according to records in his case, he wouldn’t produce client documents in a 2006 lawsuit. Ruling that the lawyer had acted in bad faith, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Gerber penalized Rosenberg by slapping him with attorney’s fees. Then, when Rosenberg continued to refuse, the judge recommended a 91-day suspension and added:

“The Referee has strong doubts about the Respondent's fitness to practice law. It is obvious Respondent possesses above-average intelligence. It appears, however, that he lacks either the common sense or the intellectual honesty to distinguish appropriate and rational arguments from inappropriate and irrational arguments. … There are times when a lawyer must yield to the facts, precedent, or court orders. Respondent appears incapable of discerning when to yield a legally unsupportable position.”

After Gerber’s recommendation, the Florida Supreme Court found 91 days insufficient, and suspended Rosenberg for a year. The court noted:

“It is particularly significant that Rosenberg has refused to accept the wrongful nature of his misconduct. Rather, he continues to attempt to relitigate Judge Gerber's order imposing sanctions. He has not paid any portion of the sanction entered against him, even though Judge Gerber's order was affirmed on appeal in 2009. Moreover, Rosenberg has continued his abusive litigation practices before both the referee and this Court; he has filed numerous motions, many of which are procedurally improper and without merit.”

That was written on May 28, 2015. Though his suspension began June 29, 2015, Rosenberg filed pleadings in a case that July. He withdrew as counsel for that case, but continued to work on another case into November and tried to pick up new clients. The state Supreme Court disbarred Rosenberg in 2016.

While disbarred earlier this year, Rosenberg filed requests in seven different Miami-Dade or Broward cases to be allowed to represent a client. In one motion, the Florida Bar says, Rosenberg claims the state Supreme Court’s order suspending him “is not a judicial order entitled to a preclusive effect and is violative of his First Amendment right to litigated related speech.”

When that motion was denied, Rosenberg filed a motion for a rehearing and a motion to disqualify the presiding judge, Carol-Lisa Phillips. Both were rejected, and the court ordered Rosenberg to cease filing motions.

The Supreme Court ordered Rosenberg’s permanent disbarment on Sept. 25.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal