Lawyers in "baseball tickets" case suspended for 18 months
PALMETTO - The Palmetto lawyers involved in the case of giving baseball tickets to a judge have been suspended.
Melton Little and Scott Kallins were suspended Thursday from practicing law for 18 months. The attorneys admitted to giving a former circuit judge, John Lakin, tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game in 2015, while he was presiding over their client's case.
Both Little and Kallins are ordered to complete a "practice and professionalism enhancement program" upon their reinstatement, during which they will both be on probation for another year.
The suspension will take effect Aug. 19. Little and Kallins are ordered not to accept new clients until they are reinstated. They are each ordered to pay $5,395.82 in court costs.
The attorneys came under fire after admitting they gave Rays baseball tickets to 12th Circuit Court Judge John Lakin while he was presiding over their client's slip–and–fall case against Walmart.
According to the Herald Tribune, the next day, Little suggested to Kallins that Lakin would be interested in tickets to that evening's Rays game against the Boston Red Sox. Kallins contacted Lakin's judicial assistant with the offer. The law firm provided five tickets to Lakin, who used two and discarded the others.
Then, Little filed a motion for a new trial. On Aug. 25, Lakin again asked the law firm for tickets to a Rays game, this time against the Minnesota Twins, which Little delivered to the judge's courtroom.
The next day, Lakin overturned the jury's verdict in the Wittke case and granted the motion for a new trial. Before Wittke vs. Walmart Stores Inc., Lakin — who was elected in 2012 — had never overturned a jury verdict during his tenure on the bench.