Monday, June 1, 2009
The Delaware Supreme Court ordered a one-year suspension of an attorney who had falsely notarized documents in a series of real estate transactions in which he was the purchaser. He also had failed to pay transfer taxes on one of the transactions and restated the purchase price on two other transactions in order to substantially reduce his transfer tax liability.
The court rejected a joint proposal of a public reprimand with certain practice restrictions. The attorney began investing in real esate while working in mergers and acquisitions at Skadden Arps. He moved to another firm and left "after his law firm discovered certain irregularities in its files" and self-reported the transfer tax problem to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The ODC discovered the false notarizations in the course of its investigation.
The court concluded that the misconduct was intentional, rather than negligent (as the Board on Professional Responsibility had found) and noted that the lawyer's claims of negligence had not been tested through cross-examination. (Mike Frisch)