Friday, November 16, 2007
The New York First Department censured an attorney who had (1) withdrawn a fee from escrow while a dispute over the fee was ongoing with prior counsel and (2) neglected an unrelated case. The lawyer also had promised to personally satisfy a lien in the neglect case and presented a check that had bounced. He later made the payment.
The court explains its sanction rationale:
"We find that, in light of the pre-hearing stipulation and the evidence presented at the liability and mitigation hearings, the findings of facts and conclusions of law regarding respondent's misconduct are supported by the record, and should be confirmed. Public censure is the appropriate sanction under the circumstances, despite the fact respondent received two prior admonitions, given all of the mitigation evidence, including respondent's pro bono work, that his wife's illness often caused him to be absent from his office during the time of his misconduct, his remorse for his non-venal wrongdoing, reduction in his caseload and multiple alterations to his office procedures to prevent any future neglect, and that he made amends to Leifer, the complainant. Although respondent's payment of the worker's compensation lien was delayed, censure is still appropriate." (citations omitted) (Mike Frisch)