Wednesday, October 9, 2013
An attorney who abused the legal process in his own divorce case has been suspended for two years by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.
The attorney filed a series of suits against the ex-wife, her sister and lawyers in state and federal courts.
Sanction were imposed in federal court
The District Court found that sanctions were appropriate because respondent's claims were without merit and respondent knew or should have known that he was precluded from recycling previously dismissed claims and that identical claims against the ex-wife Dolan could not prevail. The court found that respondent's commencement of the federal action, after being barred from commencing such an action in state court, further evidenced his bad faith and intent to harass the parties. In affirming the judgment of the District Court, the Second Circuit found that the "imposition of sanctions was appropriate because [respondent] ... has  repeatedly pursued meritless claims despite being warned by courts at every turn to cease the bad faith litigation" (Davey v Dolan, 292 Fed Appx 127, 128 [2d Cir. 2008]). By a judgment entered September 12, 2007, respondent was directed to reimburse the ex-wife for her attorneys fees and costs in the amount of $8,167.20. Respondent has not paid this sanction.
The hearing panel found that the attorney devoted 40 to 50 hours a week to his domestic litigation.
As to sanction
Even assuming that respondent's conduct was not rooted in bad faith, the same does not excuse his abuse of the legal system in disregard of court orders in pursuit of claims which were repeatedly found to be without merit. The fact that no "client" was harmed does not make the misconduct any less egregious or remove this matter from this Court's or the Committee's jurisdiction. His attempt to distinguish Matter of Chiofalo, is disingenuous. Whether 10 or 29 defendants were involved, the conduct at issue, use of the legal system to harass an ex-wife, her attorneys and judges arising from a divorce, is strikingly similar. While respondent's conduct here was not accompanied by a hostile letter writing campaign, it involved the filing of multiple meritless actions over a 10-year period in two jurisdictions. Morever, here, unlike in Matter of Chiofalo, respondent refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, submitted no substantive mitigation evidence and showed no remorse.
A dangerous obsession. (Mike Frisch)