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St. Pete attorney arrested for bringing cell phone into county jail

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg attorney has been arrested after bringing a cellphone into the Pinellas County Jail back in December.

According to Pinellas County deputies, 54-year-old Douglas Barnard went to the Pinellas County Jail on Dec. 11 to meet an inmate who he told jail personnel was his client. Only lawyers and other professional visitors are allowed jail access to personally visit inmates. All other inmate visitation is done through video.

While checking in at the jail, deputies say Barnard gave jail staff his Florida Bar card and said he was a Florida licensed attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar.

Per the Pinellas County Jail policy, Barnard was reminded that all cell phones and other electronic devices are prohibited to ensure inmates do not inappropriately get access to electronic devices. He assured staff that he did not have his cell phone and stated that he “left it in the car.”

Barnard was then escorted into the secure inmate housing area where he was later
found using his cell phone by the deputy working the area, deputies say. When he was confronted by deputies, they say he shrugged his shoulders and continued to look at his phone.

According to deputies, Barnard then stated that he intentionally defied the policy because he disagreed with it. His visit was canceled and was escorted out of the building.

As he was leaving the building, jail staff searched the Florida Bar website and found that Barnard was not eligible to practice law in Florida because the bar deactivated his license. Barnard’s status was listed as “Delinquent” and it stated he is “Not eligible to practice law in
Florida.”

According to detectives, on Dec. 12, Barnard returned to the Pinellas County Jail and again attempted to meet with the same inmate. Jail personnel told Barnard he was not a licensed attorney and that he would not be allowed to visit the inmate.

Through an investigation, detectives found that Barnard was not hired by the inmate he was trying to visit and was only thereafter a mutual friend told him of the inmate’s arrest.

Deputies say Barnard offered his unsolicited services directly to the inmate with a “family discount” and wanted to arrange a payment plan through a mutual friend. At no time did the inmate or their family members hire him for legal representation.

Detectives say they also learned Barnard called the inmate’s mother reassuring her he
could practice law even after he was denied entry to the jail on Dec. 12.

Barnard’s Florida Bar suspension was verified by detectives. They say Barnard received a letter from the Florida Bar on Oct. 30 notifying him of the suspension and he signed for the letter on Nov. 6, meaning he knew that he was not licensed and ineligible to practice law in Florida when he first visited on Dec. 11 and lied to jail staff.

Court documents show that the Public Defender’s Office was assigned to represent the inmate on Dec. 17. Deputies say on Dec. 18, Barnard filed documents indicating he was the lead attorney for the inmate.

On Dec. 20, Barnard appeared in court on the behalf of the inmate acting as her lawyer. He admitted in court that deputies had made him aware of “an issue” with his Bar license and removed himself from the case. The inmate was then represented by the Public Defender’s Office.

Barnard was arrested on Wednesday for the introduction of contraband at the Demens Landing boat ramp at 12:40 p.m. and taken to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.

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