November 1, 2010
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed an eighteen-month suspension of an attorney who had entered into a lease that allowed him to quarry stone from the lessor's land for a fee. A dispute thereafter arose.
The attorney filed (and several times amended) two civil complaints. Both complaints "were dismissed when called to trial without plaintiffs producing any evidence." The trial judge called a counterclaim filed by the attorney on behalf of the lessor's adjoining landowner as "presenting evidence so weak and spurious as would make one question whether it was pulled from thin air." The attorney also filed baseless objections to the lessor's mining permit.
The attorney engaged in a conflict of interest in his representation of the neighbor, who was a frail and elderly man who died during the litigation. He maintained frivolous litigation and claims with mining authorities, contacted the represented opposing party directly and misrepresented the status of a court order.
His testimony at the disciplinary hearing was rejected as incredible.
The Disciplinary Board had proposed a three-year suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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