Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Light Sanction

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department imposed a reciprocal sanction of publc censure in a case where the attorney had been admonished with terms in Virginia. The misconduct involved the transfer of funds held in a law firm escrow account to a new escrow account in order to defeat a former partner's access to the firm accounts:

... a three-judge court impaneled by the Supreme Court of Virginia convened to hear the matter. Respondent appeared with counsel and contested the charges.By order entered December 13, 2007 the three-judge panel of the Virginia Court found that respondent had violated Rule 1.15(c)(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct by:

(1) removing disputed Ball & Yates partnership funds to the client trust fund account of the Respondent's new law firm, thereby denying a Ball & Yates partner access to the funds and granting the new firm's partners access, without prior or proper authorization from or notice to the Ball & Yates partner, (2) disbursing funds and property without the prior authorization of or notice to the partner, and/or in breach of the partnership agreement, and/or with knowledge of disputes related to the funds and property, (3) ordering a stop-pay on the checks issued to the partner, without prior notice to the partner, and then using the funds without prior notice to or authorization from the partner, and (4) conveying essentially all disputed assets to Respondent's and Respondent's new law firm.

A rather light sanction for such misconduct, in my view. (Mike Frisch)


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