TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The prominent lawyer fighting emergency suspension of his law license has filed a response claiming that "certain members of The Florida Bar 'establishment' have been conspiring with The Florida Bar prosecutors to predatorily prosecute" him due to "personal vendettas, racial animus and greed."
Christopher Chestnut has handled many high-profile cases, including the family of the Florida A&M University drum major who died in a hazing incident.
Chestnut is representing himself in the the matter.
In the emergency motion filed last month, the Florida Bar said Chestnut "appears to be causing great public harm" and has already been the subject of nine different bar disciplinary issues, including the exploitation of an Alachua County family.
In May, the Bar filed a six-count complaint against Chestnut alleging "egregious conduct involving ... lack of competence, candor, diligence, and communication, solicitation, dishonesty, failure to supervise, and excessive fee."
He's previously been found guilty of "lack of diligence and communication" receiving a public reprimand in October 2015.
Chestnut is accused of agreeing to represent clients in Georgia and Maryland, even though he wasn't licensed to practice law in those states. In the Georgia case, he withdrew just two weeks before the statute of limitations expired in the case. The Maryland case was also compromised because of the false representation and that victim sued Chestnut in federal court.
The Florida Bar alleged that in another case, Chestnut "schemed to defraud his own client out of settlement funds." The case involves an Alachua County man who was paralyzed in a work-related accident. He later received a settlement upwards of $8 million for his injuries.
The victim and his family later sued Chestnut to get the exorbitant fees he charged back. After a trial, a jury found Chestnut "committed civil theft, breached his fiduciary duty and exploited his client."
Last week, Chestnut was sued in Texas over allegations he solicited a client without having a license to practice in the state.
The complaint said that as a woman lay dying in an ICU in Dallas, a city councilwoman called the woman's daughter repeatedly and then put Chestnut on the phone with her. She declined his services. It turns out the councilwoman and Chestnut were college friends, the complaint said.
The strongly worded complaint begins with: “To the court and jury. The darkest hour in any man's or woman's life is when they sit down to scheme and plan how to get money without lawfully earning it. The criminal conduct complained of herein demands a jury's wrath.”
The complaint said Chestnut misrepresented himself as a Georgia attorney based in Atlanta.
The Florida Bar's emergency petition said Chestnut has already and likely will continue to cause "immediate and serious harm to clients and/or the public and that immediate action must be taken for the protection of respondent’s clients and the public."
Chestnut was scheduled to face another trial on the Bar violations from May 2016 in December.