August 24, 2007
Dead Clients Tell No Tales
A lawyer with 36 years of practice without professional discipline was accused of misappropriation of funds held for a now-deceased client. Issue: does the New York Dead Man's Statute preclude the lawyer from offering testimony that the deceased client gave him the escrowed funds as compensation for unpaid legal services?
The Appellate Division, First Judicial Department held that the evidence was inadmissible as to the misconduct but could be considered as mitigating evidence. The majority ordered a two-year suspension, with a dissent favoring harsher discipline. (Mike Frisch)
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