September 18, 2012
No Lesser Sanction
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney for his conduct in the course of representing a husband and wife who were involved in a serious automobile accident in Pennsylvania.
The attorney violated Rule 1.2(a) by communicating a settlement demand without authorization. He engaged in a conflict of interest by changing his 1/3 contingency agreement to "to be negotiated" and threatening to withdraw on the day of a scheduled mediation to secure his demand for a $2 million fee. He falsely testified that the clients agreed to his fee.
The court concluded that disbarment was the proper sanction for the attorney, who "selfishly allow[ed] his own personal interests to take precedence over his duty of loyalty to his clients, but also lie[d] to a tribunal. No lesser sanction will suffice." (Mike Frisch)
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