May 24, 2011
The Timing Is Off
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department imposed a suspension of two years for ethics violations relating to an attorney's operation of her escrow account. The court rejected proferred mitigation:
At the hearing, the respondent, through her own testimony and witnesses called on her behalf, attempted to mitigate her conduct based on the emotional disturbances she was experiencing at the time. The respondent testified that during the relevant time period, she was emotionally distraught and unstable due to various mental health issues and the medications prescribed to treat her condition. The Grievance Committee points out that the respondent was under no impairment when many of the improper practices relating to her escrow account were initiated.
The respondent has no prior disciplinary history.
We conclude that the respondent lacked a basic understanding of her ethical obligations as an attorney and engaged in serious professional misconduct. Notwithstanding the absence of harm to clients and the lack of venality, the respondent's professional misconduct under the circumstances warrants a suspension from the practice of law for a period of two years.
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