Thursday, December 3, 2009
Here's a rather remarkable disciplinary matter in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated an order of suspension based on the following findings.
The attorney was suspended for non-compliance with CLE obligations. Thereafter, charges of unauthorized practice were brought. The communications from disciplinary counsel were intercepted by the attorney's paralegal. The paralegal accepted service of the petition and consulted counsel without advising the attorney of the charges. Counsel contacted disciplinary counsel and arranged for a suspension by joint petition, accepting the paralegal's representation that the attorney did not want to meet to discuss the matter. Counsel signed the attorney's name to the joint petition without ever consulting with the attorney.
When the lawyer discovered the order of suspension, she retained counsel and sought vacatur. Counsel who had negotiated the joint petition filed an affidavit admitting he had never consulted with his "client." The above facts were established at a hearing on the motion to vacate.
There's obviously a backstory here. The recommendation attached to the court's order notes that the attorney, the paralegal and the lawyer who negotiated the suspension all have known each other for 15 years. This article from the online edition of the Bucks County Courier Times notes a suit filed against the lawyer based on allegations that the paralegal stole settlement proceeds. More here on the paralegal from Angiemedia.
UPDATE: The web page of the Pennsylvania bar disciplinary system discloses that the attorney was disbarred by consent on the same day that the above order was entered. (Mike Frisch)