TAMPA — The Florida Supreme Court has suspended indefinitely a lawyer who drew attention with assertions that others controlled and tortured her through a microchip illegally implanted in her brain.
Janice L. Jennings, 55, may not accept new clients and must cease representing existing ones after Aug. 1, the court ordered, acting on a emergency petition from the Florida Bar.
She was ordered to undergo evaluation by the nonprofit Florida Lawyers Assistance organization and by a private psychologist or psychiatrist to be named by a Bar referee.
The court asked Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge J. Thomas McGrady to choose the referee — typically a county, circuit or senior judge who will act as an agent of the Supreme Court while the Bar assumes the role of prosecutor.
The suspension is a temporary measure intended to protect potential clients while Jennings gets due process and while the Bar makes its case.
"The Bar could still move for disbarment or a lengthy suspension," said spokeswoman Francine Walker. "There are many more steps that could be taken after the emergency suspension."
The Supreme Court order leaves open the possibility that Jennings could seek a "rehabilitation contract" and practice under probationary status.
Jennings, of Bartow and West Palm Beach, has not responded to interview requests from the Tampa Bay Times.
A June 16 Times article showed that she had been telling federal judges for more than a decade that she was the victim of mind control and torture, with no apparent effect on her license to practice law.
Until recently, she had two federal cases pending in U.S. District Court in Tampa, both of them discrimination lawsuits against the Polk County Commission.
Last week, U.S. District Judges Mary S. Scriven and Richard A. Lazzara ordered that both cases be administratively closed, pending the outcome of the Bar action against Jennings.
It was during a May 16 hearing for one of those cases that Jennings told Lazzara she believed opposing counsel John W. Campbell had tortured her by using a microchip illegally implanted in her brain.
Contact Patty Ryan at email@example.com or (813) 226-3382.