March 29, 2010
A Gross Misjudgment
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has suspended an attorney for four years.
Among other things, the attorney had his clients convey title to their home to him in order to avoid foreclosure and later evicted the clients while continuing to represent them in a family court matter.
The court concluded:
In determining an appropriate measure of discipline to impose, the respondent asks the court to note his altruistic motivation, his expressed regret, his previously-unblemished record, and the favorable character letters submitted by six locally practicing attorneys. As evidence of his intent to aid the clients, the respondent points out an admission by one of the clients under oath that the respondent gave him approximately $600 to $800 to get the utilities back on in his residence. The respondent further points out that this matter did not emanate from a complaint by the clients inasmuch as his conduct did not impact upon his representation of them in Family Court. He maintains that his questionable transactions and conflicts were not aggravated by additional misconduct.
While he may have suffered from the fiscal irresponsibility of his clients, the respondent evinced serious misjudgment in commencing an eviction proceeding against them while continuing to represent them in a pending Family Court matter. Balancing the respondent's previously-unblemished record and the absence of substantial harm to the clients with his display of gross misjudgment, we conclude that respondent should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of four years.
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