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Reprimand of lawyer is upheld

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a decision to reprimand a lawyer for his treatment of a group of St. Petersburg property owners he represented in a string of lawsuits, records showed.

Joseph R. Miele had appealed the decision of a Florida Bar referee to the state Supreme Court, stating that a public reprimand was not warranted in his case.

The court disagreed with Miele, its ruling stated Thursday.

From 1981 to 1987, Miele represented the owners of condominium units in lawsuits fighting a county property appraiser's decision to increase the units' appraisals, the ruling said.

The suits ended in 1989 when the unit owners were awarded assessment refunds and attorney's fees. Miele, who already had been paid by the owners to pursue the cases, kept the fee awards, the ruling said.

The condominium owners eventually complained to the state bar, which filed a complaint against Miele. A bar referee eventually found that Miele failed to tell his clients details about the fee award and did not keep trust account records.

The Supreme Court approved those conclusions.