Douglas Bates is a workers' compensation and personal injury attorney in Plantation, Florida; Mr. Bates was indicted in August, in one of the Scott Rothstein Ponzi scheme Federal cases, where he stands accused of perpetrating an elaborate charade upon investors in the Rothstein fraud: misrepresenting that he referred many important cases to the Ponzi schemer, to convince the victims, including a New York-based hedge fund, that the phantom settlement clients Rothstein claimed to represent were real.
Out on bond, the Magistrate Judge imposed an "onerous" Special Condition upon Mr. Bates, according to his attorney. I will quote it here verbatim from the bond hearing:
"Cease and desist in the practice of law, in any manner, while on release, immediately."
His lawyer filed a motion to amend the conditions of his Pretrial Release, arguing:
(A) The order amounted to a determination of guilt without trial by jury.
(B) The order was a denial of the presumption of innocence.
(C) The order was a denial of Due process; it amount to a taking of his law business.
The US Attorney responded that the Magistrate was correct, in that he found that Bates' "pervasive criminal activity" kept Rothstein's Ponzi scheme alive, when he provided, on law firm stationary, false opinions and statements.
Bates has now appealed the Magistrate's ruling to the District Judge handling the case. The issue: whether a lawyer who was a principal actor in a Ponzi scheme poses a sufficiently clear threat to the public to terminate his legal practice, while he is out on bail, and prior to his trial. There are valid points to be made on both sides of the argument.
When the District Judge makes his ruling, we shall update our readers accordingly.