Thursday, February 26, 2009
The New York Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department imposed reciprocal censures of two law firm partners based on sanctions imposed in Maryland. The law firm had its primary office in Pennsylvania. The lawyers:
...operated a high volume practice in multiple states prosecuting motor vehicle warranty and "Lemon Law" civil claims. in 2004, the firm hired an attorney admitted in Maryland to establish and operate a satellite office in that state. The subordinate attorney neglected client matters leading to dismissals in 47 cases with prejudice. The Court of Appeals of Maryland then indefinitely suspended [the supervising lawyers]...with a right to apply for reinstatement after 90 days.
Noting that the attorneys were never admitted in Maryland, the court here found that censure was the appropriate reciprocal discipline. The lawyers had acknowleged the misconduct and expressed remorse. The court also noted that the subordinate attorney "had failed to follow firm procedures which would have alerted [the attorneys] to the misconduct and enabled them to take timely preventitive measures."
I don't buy into the last part. When you give a freshly-minted lawyer more work than can possibly be competently done, the problem cannot fairly be ascribed to a failure to follow procedures.
The Maryland decision in the case is linked here. (Mike Frisch)