Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Leaving Battery Park

An attorney who was sanctioned in civil litigation where she acted as her own attorney has been suspended for six months by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.

The facts:

This matter arises from a 10-year litigation wherein respondent alleged that she was fraudulently induced to vacate her federally-subsidized Battery Park City apartment. The litigation resulted in, among other things, two Civil Court decisions and one Supreme Court decision imposing monetary sanctions against respondent totaling approximately $8,783. The observations of the courts and/or referees who sanctioned respondent included that her conduct was "indicative of harassment and an abuse of the judicial process" and "mean spirited and vexatious," and that her "inappropriate use of the courts" resulted in "needless expense in the defense of a frivolous lawsuit." She was sanctioned for "years of vituperative litigation," frivolous motion practice, and intentional misrepresentations to the court.

The attorney contended

 At the sanction hearing, respondent challenged the jurisdiction of this Court and the DDC on the grounds that she has never maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Department, that she has not practiced law since 2002, and that the sanctions imposed against her arose from her conduct as a party-litigant, not as an attorney. Respondent admitted that she had not paid the sanctions, nor did she intend to do so. Respondent also testified that she suffers from, among other things, a serious immune deficiency condition that has resulted in serious illnesses, some of which have been life threatening. Respondent also testified that she has been treated for cancer, and that her only source of income was disability benefits.

The court rejected the jurisdictional argument but treated the health issues as a mitigating factor. (Mike Frisch)


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