October 3, 2007
Duty To Cooperate
An attorney admitted to practice in 1955 was suspended by the New York First Judicial Department as a result of a complaint alleging that he had failed to disburse the proceeds of an estate. The attorney had initially answered the complaint by admitting that the bulk of the legal work had been completed in 2006 and a court order had directed that he release the funds. After a failed attempt at mediation, the lawyer was sent a certified letter requesting production of relevant bank records, followed by a subpoena. His assistant advised that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
After a final demand letter, the attorney provided the disciplinary committee with four checks and a statement from the complainant withdrawing the complaint. The checks were not from his escrow account and were returned with a warning that his continuing failure to cooperate could lead to suspension. The committee then moved for immediate suspension, which was granted: "[the attorney] has persistently flouted or ignored multiple requests...for his appearance, and for account records...neither [the attorney] nor anyone on his behalf has supplied the Committee with any documentation confirming his medical condition... his general uncooperativeness evinces a shocking disregard for the judicial system and the Committee's investigation." (Mike Frisch)
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