June 20, 2008
Depression Caused Misconduct
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended an attorney for a year and a day for unauthorized practice after he had transferred to inactive status. He was hired as a contract attorney by a Delaware firm while inactive, and became lead counsel for the firm's class action defense litigation in "a national complex and class action defense." He received reimbursement from the firm for his annual registration fee although he never paid the fee. After failing to provide discovery, he forged, or caused to be forged, a letter from opposing counsel that purported to strike the order to compel discovery. The firm terminated him shortly thereafter.
The attorney suffers from a major depressive disorder and had financial reverses that had led to a divorce. He sought treatment and now takes medicine to stabilize his mood. The Disciplinary Board concluded that the attorney "suffers from a psychiatric disorder which substantially caused the misconduct." The board further concluded that the dishonest conduct required a reinstatement proceeding. (Mike Frisch)
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