Monday, October 15, 2012

Explanations Not Forthcoming, Attorney Suspended

An attorney who failed to cooperate with a disciplinary complaint investigation has been suspended by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department. The complaint was initiated by a federal judge:

Five months after the Committee first wrote respondent, it received an answer from her with respect to all three complaints. Respondent stated that there had been a "misunderstanding" and a "miscommunication" with a certain attorney who she had arranged to take over the cases; that she apologized and accepted full responsibility; and that she issued full refunds to all three clients (and attached copies of money orders). She also advised that she no longer was in
private practice, rather, she worked for "Special Counsel" for the last year, and therefore, was no longer able to handle the three client matters. Respondent, however, did not explain why no one, including her clients, knew about the cases being transferred to new counsel, and she did not address her failure to return phone calls from, among others, Judge Cote's chambers.

On April 23, 2012, this Court issued a subpoena duces tecum directing respondent to produce the three client files, and to appear on May 9, 2012 to give testimony. On May 2, 2012 respondent left a voicemail message for the DDC investigator stating that she could not comply with this Court's subpoena because her apartment had been burglarized the previous year and the subpoenaed case files had been stolen. In response, by letter dated May 2, the Committee informed respondent that despite her lack of documents, the subpoena still required her appearance and requested that she bring any documentation regarding the claimed burglary. The certified letter receipt sent to her business address was signed for and returned to the DDC.

Notwithstanding this correspondence, respondent did not appear for her deposition or otherwise contact the Committee. That day the Committee wrote respondent regarding her failure to appear and informed her that if she did not contact the DDC by May 18 to reschedule her appearance, an interim suspension may be filed against her. The letter sent first class to Special Counsel was returned marked "Attempted-Not Known Unable to Forward" and the certified letter also sent to her business was refused and returned to the Committee. On May 15, the DDC investigator asked Special Counsel about the returned mail and was told that the business told the Post Office that they would no longer accept mail on respondent's behalf. In addition, respondent gave Special Counsel permission to provide her Brooklyn home address to anyone trying to locate her.

On May 15, 2012, the Committee sent another letter to respondent's home advising, among other things, that if she did not contact the DDC by May 23 to reschedule her deposition an interim suspension may follow and, asking for an alternative mailing address since she never responded to any correspondence the Committee had sent to her Brooklyn address. The return receipt was signed for on May 16 and returned to the Committee. Respondent did not respond to this letter.

The court thus imposed a suspension pending furtrher proceedings. (Mike Frisch)

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