Thursday, August 15, 2013

When Disrespect For Courts Gets An Attorney Disbarred

An attorney who "has demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the authority of the courts" has been disbarred by the New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department.

The attorney had a "substantial disciplibary history" prior to the present matter, which involved criminal contempt before the United States District Court for the Easern District of New York. She was suspended for 45 days by that court.

The court here found as to the appropriate discipline:

In determining an appropriate measure of discipline to impose, we have considered the conduct underlying the respondent's conviction of criminal contempt, which is detailed in a 49-page Memorandum and Order issued by United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York...Specifically, Judge Bianco described the respondent's "bizarre" and "contumacious" actions during the trial of that matter, in which she represented the plaintiff, including the fact that she "repeatedly" and "blatantly" disregarded the court's scheduling orders, evidentiary rulings, and decisions limiting the scope of the action. Judge Bianco found that the respondent demonstrated "an astounding disregard for her obligations as an attorney and an officer of the court"...Ultimately, Judge Bianco determined that "the cumulative effect of . . . Ms. Pollack's severe misconduct—much of which occurred in the presence of the jury—had so severely prejudiced [the] defendant and undermined the fairness and integrity of the proceedings that the severe sanction of dismissal was warranted". In a subsequent Memorandum and Verdict issued by United States District Judge Allyne R. Ross of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the respondent was found guilty of criminal contempt inasmuch as her conduct in the Stuart matter was so inappropriate "that it violated standards of proper courtroom decorum," and was "inconsistent with the maintenance of orderly, dignified judicial proceedings". Judge Ross added, "by flouting the court's commands, [the] respondent unquestionably obstructed the administration of justice . . . [T]here can be no doubt that [the] respondent acted knowingly and willfully, repeatedly informing Judge Bianco that she would not follow his order[s] because she viewed [them] to be unlawful". Judge Ross concluded: "[the] respondent's misbehavior made it impossible to conduct an orderly trial . . . and eventually forced Judge Bianco to dismiss the action" (citations omitted)

Similarly, the Honorable Arthur J. Cooperman, the second Special Referee appointed by this Court to hear and report in this matter, found that the respondent demonstrated a "fundamental disrespect for the judicial process." He noted that she accused the first Special Referee of "having predetermined the case, railroading her . . . and being [the] Petitioner's advocate." Further, she "accused the second Special Referee [Judge Cooperman] of bias . . . and having an  agenda,'" while referring to the proceedings as a  "kangaroo' court." Judge Cooperman further noted that counsel for the Grievance Committee was "not immune to [the] Respondent's degrading comments," and that the respondent "even questioned the court reporter's authority." In a civil action contemporaneously commenced by the respondent, inter alia, for a judgment declaring that her due process and equal protection rights were violated by Judge Cooperman and counsel for the Grievance Committee, among others, she alleged that the proceedings against her were "reminiscent of Iron Curtain Justice and Ghestapo [sic] terror interrogation and tactics."

The court here further found that the attorney practiced in violation of the Eastern District's suspension order.

The ABA Journal covered the underlying federal case. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2013/08/an-attorney-who-has-demonstrated-a-flagrant-disregard-for-the-authority-of-the-courts-has-been-disbarred-by-the-new-york-appe.html

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