January 10, 2012
"Substantial Risk" Violates Unauthorized Communication Rule
An attorney who provided revisions to a settlement agreement to his client in a divorce case with the expectation that the client would deliver the agreement directly to the opposing party has been publicly censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
The court found (and the attorney acknowledged) that he violated the unauthorized communication with a represented party. The attorney "knew or should have known that there was a substantial risk that [his client] would deliver [the documents] to the husband, whom [he] knew was being represented by counsel."
The attorney also engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by filing the documents after he had told opposing counsel he would not do so. (Mike Frisch)
January 9, 2012
Litigation As Punishment Leads To Proposed Suspension
A District of Columbia Hearing Committee has recommended a suspension of 18 months with a fitness requirement of an attorney who
used the legal system not as a means of resolving legitimate disputes, but rather, to punish those with whom he had a disagreement. [He] was mad at the people and entities that he sued: Christie's auction house and the Board of the Palisades Swimming Pool Association. He used the courts to mete out what he believed would be guaranteed retribution: even if the defendants prevailed on the merits, they would not "win" because they could not escape the financial and other costs of litigation.
The hearing committee recognized that attorneys "can and often should use every tool available to them." Here, however, the attorney "pressed objectively meritless issues, ignored court rules and orders, threatened gratuitous harm to uninvolved third parties, and filed hundreds of pages of frivolous pleadings."
The case against Christie's was brought when the auction house declined to sell one of the attorney's painting (purportedly the work of Emil Jakob Schindler) because it could not verify its authenticity. The suit against the swimming pool association came in the wake of a letter warning him to cease objectionable conduct. He claimed that the letter branded him as a "sexual pervert, pederast, pedophile, assaulter and batterer."
The report can be found at this link by inserting the name Robert Fastov. (Mike Frisch)
Online Child Pornography Trading Leads To Disbarment
An attorney who admitted to trading child pornography on line over a span of ten years has been disbarred by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and is serving a sentence in a federal institution.
The pornography included both images and movies that involved sadistic and masochistic images such as bondage.
The Disciplinary Review Board considered that number of images (one movie = 75 images) as well as a prior criminal charge alleging criminal sexual conduct toward a minor relative. The board chair dissented and would impose a suspension of three years. (Mike Frisch)
The Georgia Supreme Court has accepted the voluntary license surrender of attorney Parmesh N. Dixit as a result of his felony conviction for violation of 8 U.S.C. section 1324 (a)(1)(A)(v)(1) (conspiracy to harbor alien). The attorney had petitioned the court for the sanction.
The court noted that the sanction is tantamount to disbarment. (Mike Frisch)
Home Of The Brave
The Georgia Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney convicted in a mortgage fraud that involved the home of a former Atlanta Braves player. The attorney conducted a real estate settlement while serving a two-year suspension imposed as a result of the conviction.
According to this press release from the Attorney General of Georgia concerning the arrests:
Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced this afternoon that six arrests had been made in conjunction with a real estate sting operation involving the sale of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Ron Gant’s home. The home, located in Alpharetta’s Country Club of the South development, was the center of a proposed fraud that would have netted those engaged in the fraud at least $800,000.00 in fraudulent proceeds. The sting operation was conducted jointly between the Office of the Attorney General and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The Attorney General’s Office emphasized that Ron Gant and his wife were not party to the fraud and cooperated fully with law enforcement in setting up the sting.
Arrested today were Dan DelPiano, Pam DelPiano, Grant Faglier, Carna Jean Faglier, Kota Suttle and Frederick Gardner. The fraud centered around the Fagliers purchasing the home from the Gants for $2.8 million, and then immediately flipping the home in a pre-arranged deal to the DelPianos using an appraisal that valued the home at $4.9 million. The amount of the loan on the second transaction was to be for $3.6 million, with the initial sale by the Gants to be a cash transaction. Suttle and Gardner are law partners who set up both real estate transactions and acted as closing attorneys.
The court's order is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
Georgia Supreme Court Will Review Ethics Opinion
The Georgia Supreme Court has granted review of an opinion that addresses the issue of the proper role of an attorney appointed to represent a child as both an attorney and as guardian ad litem.
The court will review an opinion of the Formal Advisory Opinion Board concluding that, where the client instructs the attorney to take a position that the attorney believes to not be in the client's best interests, the attorney should seek to withdraw from the representation.
The State Bar had sought discretionary review.
The petition for review by the State Bar has the formal opinion attached to it. (Mike Frisch)