November 24, 2008
Sufficient Evidence Of Intent
The New York Court of Appeals held that a former public official had violated the state Public Officers Law by submitting an expert affidavit in litigation:
Petitioner worked for the New York State Department of Health (DOH) from 1973 to 1995. During petitioner's 22-year tenure, he held various senior management positions and served as executive director of a project that developed and implemented New York's RUGS-II case mix reimbursement system--a system used to determine Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. Petitioner established a health care consulting firm in 1997 and, in 2004, was paid $11,880 by a group of nursing homes to prepare an expert affidavit to support their litigation challenging the RUGS-II system.
The court found sufficient evidence of intent to sustain the violation:
In this case, petitioner conceded that his actions constituted a violation of the lifetime bar provision. To impose a civil penalty, the Commission needed only to show that petitioner was aware of the nature and circumstances regarding the submission of the expert affidavit on the RUGS-II system, a matter in which he personally participated, and had the conscious objective to prepare the expert affidavit. The Commission did not need to show that petitioner knew the statements in the affidavit violated the lifetime ban or that he purposely acted to violate the law.
Less Serious Than Alleged
In a case involving ethics charges against an attorney in his capacity as owner of an entity that acted as a title agent for a title insurance company, an Illinois hearing board recommended that most of the charges be dismissed. The hearing board further proposed that the suspension proposed by the Administrator be rejected in favor of a public censure.
The lawyer had advertised for business, as the hearing board found, with the following ad:
A Private Invitation
To Save Hundreds of Dollars on
Your Home Closing
Our specialized law firm will close you
Home sale for a fixed legal fee of $175
Start to Finish
At One Affordable Low Fee
Buyer/Seller Negotiations Through Closing
Title Order and Review
Complete Document Preparation
Schedule and attend closing as your legal representative
Respondent did not disclose his separate charge for "title review fees" which he advertised as included in the legal fees for representation. Respondent also did not disclose his involvement in other fee generating activities and did not disclose the potential for a conflict of interest that he had in entering into a business transaction with a client without informing the client of his financial interest in the entities that conducted those fee generating activities. Respondent omitted to disclose that title service fees, performed by Title Fees, and survey fees, performed by We Survey, were additional charges by companies he owned or in which he had a financial interest.
As a result, there were four instances where the attorney had breached his fiduciary duties in the closings. However, the hearing board rejected a laundry list of additional charges including undue influence, overreaching in the attorney-client relationship and dishonesty. (Mike Frisch)
November 23, 2008
Follow Up to Globalization Program - New York Times Piece
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
Unfortunately, my posts from the Harvard Law School Program on the Globalization of the Legal Profession had to end at about 1:00 p.m. I could not stay for the lunch talks by Detlev Vagts, Elena Kagan, and Ben Heineman, nor the after-lunch program moderated by David Wilkins on outsourcing of legal work to India.
As a follow-up of sorts, the New York Times has a long piece today on U.S. associates in big firms going overseas.
Here are links back to the live blogging from Friday, November 21: