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If You Believe Experience Matters.

Florida Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Attorneys

Ordinary people can find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. A serious injury, arrest, or the prospect of criminal charges can threaten an individual's and a family's entire way of life. When you need strong legal representation, we encourage you to contact and consider Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett.

Co-founded in 1971 by attorneys Ed Carlson and Paul Meissner, the law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. has built its success on four pillars:

  • Community commitment
  • Accessibility and timely response to clients
  • Responsible, reasonable, reliable service
  • Experience and the team approach of our attorneys


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Community Commitment

At Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., we believe our active participation in the communities where we live and work helps us provide the high-quality, personalized legal services that protect our clients’ rights and our community.  We maintain offices in ClearwaterNew Port RicheyBradenton, and Spring Hill, Florida.  We are an established presence in the communities we serve, which makes our services convenient for our clients and their families.

Accessibility and Timely Response to Clients

At Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., our client-centered practice is grounded in establishing and maintaining close relationships with our clients.  From the initial, free, consultation and throughout the progress of your case, we make certain that you know what is happening, understand your options and can make informed decisions. Our attorneys provide intelligent analysis of the legal matters involved and advise you on your options with the ultimate goal of obtaining the best possible results in a cost-effective manner.

Responsible, Reasonable, Reliable Service

The attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. work tirelessly to establish a reputation for integrity, honesty, and committed client service. Clients know they can rely on us to put their interests first.  Our extensive experience and depth of knowledge means we can:

  • Quickly and efficiently evaluate your case
  • Determine the best possible outcome
  • Move decisively for a full, fair resolution of your claim 

We will not waste your time or your money, and we will do everything in our power to meet or exceed your expectations.

Experience and Our Team of Attorneys

Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. has assembled an exceptionally experienced personal injury and criminal defense team.  Our attorneys have the skill, resources, and willingness to take every possible step to help you prevail. Our attorneys are skilled at sharing and drawing on the strengths of other attorneys in the firm.  You are hiring a “team.”  With our mock courtroom and our sophisticated computer technology, we can prepare compelling arguments and crystal-clear exhibits as evidence, so judges and juries can understand what really happened. Ourattorneys are dedicated to preserving your rights and maintaining the highest professional standards, while effectively demonstrating facts that help your case.  We have a sincere interest in our clients’ welfare and future.  If retained to represent you, your case will receive the full support of our dedicated and experienced support staff.  If you believe experience matters, call on us.  We handle: 

Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A., fights for our clients rights in these and other matters in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Hillsborough, Hernando and surrounding counties in Florida. 


More Information on Our Values as a Law Firm:


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Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett is honored to have been named one of 2012 Florida's Top Ranked Law Firms based on AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers Ratings, pursuant to the Wall Street Journal.

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CLEARWATER - Nick Bollea wants to move to California.
Bollea's attorneys are asking the Florida Department of Corrections agency to let him serve the rest of his probation in California, said DOC spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff. The request is in the form of an application for an interstate compact agreement, which allows people on probation to move to a state different from the one in which they were convicted.
The 18-year-old was released in October from the Pinellas County Jail, where he served 166 days of an eight-month sentence handed down after pleading no contest to a charge of reckless driving involving serious bodily injury.
On Aug. 26, 2007, Bollea was involved in a car crash that left his sole passenger, Iraq war veteran John Graziano, with permanent brain damage. A civil suit has been filed by Graziano's guardian against Bollea and his mother, Linda Bollea, and his father, Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea.
In addition to the eight-month jail sentence, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge ordered Bollea to serve five years of probation and perform 500 hours of community service. Bollea was also ordered to attend DUI school, which he has completed, Rackleff said.
He has also passed all his drug tests since his release from jail, Rackleff said.
Probation officers in California have already checked out the home of Bollea's maternal grandparents, where he would live, said Rackleff and Kevin Hayslett, one of Bollea's attorneys. Bollea plans to attend school in California in early spring, she said.
His application, however, has not been accepted as of yet, she said.
"Until we have official notification that the application has been accepted, he's still under supervision" in Clearwater, she said.
Bollea received permission to travel to California this past October, and he was allowed to travel with his father to Miami in November, Rackleff said. Bollea was also allowed to travel with his father to Salt Lake City earlier this month.
Tampa Tribune - Tampa, Fla.


Jun 3, 2008
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Bollea was prosecuted as an adult, but Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats, who operates the jail, is keeping him in a cell by himself because Bollea is a juvenile. He has complained about the situation to his parents almost from the moment he was secluded in the jail's medical building, according to recorded phone conversations with his parents that Coats' office released.
"Understandably, this situation creates an unbearable anxiety for a minor in solitary confinement," wrote the attorneys, Sandy Weinberg and Kevin Hayslett, in their request. "[Nick Bollea] was placed in a cell that is typically reserved for inmates who are disciplinary problems who as punishment need to be kept in isolation in protective custody."
Bollea's isolated status has been exacerbated by the sheriff's decision to grant the media's request for copies of the recorded conversations with his parents, Bollea's lawyers say in the motion

Tampa Tribune - Tampa, Fla.





Jun 26, 2003

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 [Dwight Smith]'s attorney, Kevin Hayslett, said, "We're obviously pleased with the reduction of the charges and we want to focus on getting Dwight back to the football field, where he belongs."

On April 16, Clearwater police have said, Smith and Clearwater resident John Schultz got into an argument after trying to merge into the same lane on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Smith said he displayed the weapon because he believed Schultz was being aggressive, police said; Schultz said he was the one who was afraid.

Smith was entering the final year of a four-year deal he signed out of Arizona State in 2000. The Steelers plan to move Smith from right tackle to left tackle to replace Wayne Gandy, who signed a six- year, $30 million deal with New Orleans.

Tampa Tribune - Tampa, Fla.





Mar 18, 1997

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Abstract (Document Summary)

SUMMARY: The attorney for Bruce Tyndall asked for leniency, noting the humiliation the former rofficial endured after his arrest.

CLEARWATER - Former Pinellas County Commissioner Bruce Tyndall was sentenced Monday to two years of probation in connection with a December drug arrest that sank his political career.

Moments before the sentencing, Tyndall's lead defense attorney, Paul Meissner, asked the judge for leniency "and allow Mr. Tyndall to get on with his life."


Deborah Lyons, wife of the fallen minister, is released early from her probation for setting fire to a Tierra Verde home.


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000

LARGO -- Deborah Lyons expected a sea of media cameras on Thursday as a friend drove her to the courthouse. Upon her arrival, just one greeted her. The usual crowd of reporters was missing, too.

It was then, Mrs. Lyons said, that she realized her long legal ordeal was really finished.

"God has been good and gracious to me," said the wife of fallen Baptist leader Henry J. Lyons. "Finally, it's over, isn't it?"

For her, it is.

Without fanfare or attention, a Pinellas circuit judge ordered an early end to the five years' probation Mrs. Lyons received for setting fire in 1997 to the $700,000 Tierra Verde home her husband bought with another woman.

Mrs. Lyons, 52, who still had just over two years of probation to complete, smiled broadly as the judge made his decision. She clasped the hands of three friends sitting with her in court.

Afterward, she hugged them all, and then she hugged her attorney, Paul Meissner. In the elevator ride to the courthouse lobby, she wiped tears from her eyes.

"Hallelujah," Mrs. Lyons said softly to herself. "This long, terrible journey is over."

The journey for her and her husband began July 6, 1997.

That's the day she set fire to the Tierra Verde home after discovering that her husband had purchased it with another woman, Bernice Edwards.

That arson set in motion two years of revelations about her husband, then president of the National Baptist Convention USA, and his financial dealings using the convention's name.

Today, the Rev. Lyons, 58, a St. Petersburg minister, is serving a 51/2-year prison sentence on racketeering and grand theft charges. The "other woman" behind the Tierra Verde house, Bernice Edwards, is serving a 21-month federal sentence on tax evasion charges.

A second woman, Brenda Harris, the Nashville woman prosecutors called the Rev. Lyons' "paramour," is serving an 18-month federal probation sentence for misinforming lenders about the source of money Lyons gave her to buy a home in Tennessee.

Mrs. Lyons was in a jealous, intoxicated rage when she set fire to the waterfront Tierra Verde home Lyons had purchased with Edwards, police reports said.

She told police that she had followed her husband there one night after discovering a deed to the house in his briefcase. Later, she returned, swiping her husband's spare keys and wandering alone in the four-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot home.

She lost control and set the fire, she told police, after she found her husband's clothes in closets.

Lyons initially explained that the house was the national guest house for the convention, and also described it as one of Edwards' investment properties.

The fire caused about $30,000 damage.

When Mrs. Lyons pleaded guilty to the arson charge on Oct. 20, 1997, and received the probation sentence, tears flowed from her eyes as a courtroom filled with reporters watched.

After 34 months of that probation sentence had passed, Mrs. Lyons asked the judge on Thursday to end it early, something any probationer can ask a judge to do.

Mrs. Lyons had successfully completed all the terms of her probation -- the 200 hours of community service, abstaining from alcohol, a psychological evaluation, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Normally, defendants can't ask a judge for an early end to their probation until at least half of the sentence has passed.

Mrs. Lyons waited four months longer than was legally necessary.

"We did that out of an abundance of caution," said her attorney, Meissner.

"She has complied with every single demand made of her. I don't think she has been anything but a model probationer," Meissner told Judge Douglas Baird. "I hope you can terminate her probation and allow her to get on with the next chapter of her life."

Baird, saying reports indicated Mrs. Lyons had been an "exemplary probationer," granted the request without comment.

And so, it was over.

Mrs. Lyons, who now lives in Largo, works in St. Petersburg as a lead career counselor for PinellasWorks!, a welfare reform initiative. She said she works with those seeking retraining for jobs, especially ex-offenders.

Mrs. Lyons will have to wait and see if she will now be able to see her husband.

She has not seen Rev. Lyons since he was sent to prison in March 1999. After she pleaded guilty to the arson, the crime disqualified her for visitation rights.

While state prison officials say she can reapply to see him now that her probation is over, she still may not be granted visitation, state prison officials say.

For the time being, Mrs. Lyons said she is simply thankful her ordeal is done. "It was a storm that God had to bring me through to get me where I am today," she said.

The past three years "really did seem like forever," she said. "I just knew if I kept my focus on the Lord, I'd reach this day. The Lord helped me keep my sanity through all of this."

Just a month ago, the Tierra Verde home was finally foreclosed by World Savings and Loan Association, two years after it was initiated.

Nobody had lived in the home since the fire that Mrs. Lyons started.

Meissner said, "It's all old news now."