Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Detention and Corrections Bureau
-Detention Investigations Unit
Douglas Barnard (Arrested)
Address: 500 1st Avenue SE, St. Petersburg
Charges: Introduction of Contraband into a Correctional Facility and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Detectives assigned to the Detention Investigations Unit (DIU) have arrested a St. Petersburg attorney for Introduction of Contraband into a Correctional Facility.
The possession of a cell phone in a county detention facility is a third degree felony under Florida Statute 951.22 (1) k.
The investigation began on December 11, 2019.
The suspect was arrested on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at Demens Landing Park in St. Petersburg.
The crime occurred at the Pinellas County Jail located at 14400 49th Street North in Clearwater.
On December 11, 2019, 54-year-old Douglas Barnard arrived at the Pinellas County Jail and told jail personnel that he was an attorney and that he was there to meet an inmate who was his client. (Only lawyers and other professional visitors are allowed access to the jail to personally visit inmates. All other inmate visitation is conducted through video visitation. This special privilege with access to the secure areas of the jail is very limited).
While checking in at the jail, Barnard provided staff with a Florida Bar card and he indicated that he was a Florida licensed attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar. Pinellas County jail policy prohibits any cellular phones or other electronic devices in the secure areas of the jail, which is consistent with Florida law. This policy, under law, is in effect to ensure inmates do not inappropriately get access to electronic devices. Barnard was reminded of the electronic devices policy and specifically asked if he had a cell phone.Barnard assured staff that he did not and stated that he "left it in the car." Multiple signs are posted in highly visible locations prior to entering the secure areas of the jail stating that cell phone possession inside the jail is prohibited and that it is a felony to violate the policy.
Barnard was escorted into the secure inmate housing area where he was later found using his cell phone by the deputy working the area. When he was confronted by deputies he shrugged his shoulders and continued looking at his phone. Barnard then made statements indicating that he intentionally defied the policy because he disagreed with the policy. Barnard lied to jail personnel and brought the cell phone into the secure area of the jail knowing that he was prohibited from doing so. Barnard's visit was cancelled and he was escorted out of the building.
Upon Barnard leaving the facility, staff searched the Florida Bar website and learned that Barnard was not eligible to practice law in Florida because the Florida Bar had deactivated his license to practice law. Barnard's status was listed as "Delinquent" and it stated he is "Not eligible to practice law in Florida." Jail personnel made a note in our jail computer system that Barnard is ineligible to practice law.
According to detectives, on December 12, 2019, 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 permitted to visit the inmate.
Through their investigation, detectives discovered Barnard was not hired by the inmate he was attempting to visit, and was only there after a mutual friend told him of the inmate's arrest. 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 also learned Barnard called the inmate's mother reassuring her he could practice law even after he was denied entry to the jail on December 12, 2019.
Detectives verified with the Florida Bar that it sent Barnard a certified letter on October 30, 2019 notifying him of the suspension of his Florida Bar license. He signed for the letter on November 6, 2019. Thus, when Barnard arrived at the jail on December 11, 2019, he gained access by using the special privilege granted to licensed lawyers knowing full well that he was not licensed and ineligible to practice law in Florida - he lied to jail personnel about his status. Barnard also lied about not having a cell phone in knowing defiance of jail policies. Barnard did all this to visit an inmate who was not his client and someone he was seeking to represent unsolicited by the inmate.
Court documents show that the Public Defender's office was assigned to represent the inmate on December 17, 2019. However, on December 18, 2019, while knowing that he was ineligible to practice law in Florida, Barnard filed documents indicating he was the lead attorney for the inmate.
On December 20, 2019, Barnard appeared in court on 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.
Detectives arrested Barnard at the Demens Landing boat ramp at 12:40 p.m. today where he was found in possession of drug paraphernalia. He was then transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.
The booking photo was not available at the time of this release.
The investigation continues.
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