Monday, November 3, 2008

"The Strongest Possible Terms"

A hearing committee in the District of Columbia recently filed a 168 page report recommending disbarment as a result of misconduct findings in four matters. The hearing committee held hearings on 12 days over a three-month period. The findings and conclusions are unusually blunt:

The record in these cases reveals a pattern of behavior that is at odds with a license to practice law. Respondent has repeatedly violated his obligations to his clients and to tribunals. Even more troubling, Respondent has a pattern of violating his primary obligation as a member of this Bar: the obligation to be truthful. He has filed demonstrably false "verified" pleadings. He has lied to multiple judges. In efforts to gain an advantage or avoid a consequence, he has repeatedly denied receiving notices, orders, and pleadings that were sent to the proper addresses for him. He has repeatedly engaged in eleventh-hour attempts to frustrate or delay legal proceedings. He plainly perjured himself before this Hearing Committee.

One of the matters involved a dispute between the lawyer and his siblings over their parent's fortune. The misconduct involved instituting frivolous litigation, overcharging his mother (who suffered from Alzheimer's) legal fees and culminated in the abduction of his mother. The full story, as told by the committee, is a tale of a dysfunctional family (and a grossly unethical person as well as lawyer) that takes on the quality of a daytime television drama.

In another matter, his deposition had been scheduled and he sought to reshedule (in his words) like "a Virginia gentleman" not a "New Jerseyan asshole." The incident is discussed at page 53.

The committee recommends disbarment "in the strongest possible terms." The report lays out in great detail the gross misuse of the legal process and obstruction of the disciplinary process on the part of the accused attorney. Kudos to D.C. Bar Counsel for perserverance in the prosecution of an attorney who appears to have mastered the art of delay. (Mike Frisch)

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