Friday, August 16, 2013

Tar Heel Misconduct

More from the North Carolina State Bar web page:

Jeffrey G. Marscocci of Raleigh was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Marscocci's website contained numerous misleading statements.  The website also represented that Marscocci specializes in financial planning.  Financial planning is not recognized by the State Bar as a practice specialty. 

And:

Steven DeCillis of Oxford did all of the following simultaneously: sued L.H. in a personal injury case, represented L.H. in three matters that were unrelated to the personal injury case, and engaged in a sexual relationship with L.H.  The DHC suspended him for five years. After serving three years, DeCillis will be eligible to apply for a stay of the remaining two years upon compliance with numerous conditions.

To summarize: The attorney represented a client while suing and having sex with her. (Mike Frisch)

August 16, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Not Going The Extra Mile

A summary of a recent disciplinary sanction from the web page of the North Carolina State Bar:

Elaine Kelley, a former senior assistant district attorney in Bladen County, pled guilty to one count of misprision of felony, a misdemeanor.  Kelley admitted that she entered into an agreement with her former employer, former elected district attorney Rex Gore, that in addition to salary, Kelley would be compensated by receiving reimbursement for mileage she did not incur.  Pursuant to this agreement, Kelley submitted false mileage reimbursement requests to the Administrative Office of the Courts.  Kelley was sentenced to 12 months unsupervised probation and ordered to pay restitution of $14,190.39.  The court also suspended Kelley's law license for six months.  At Kelley's request, the Grievance Committee will not take action until Gore's criminal proceedings are concluded and Kelley will not engage in the practice of law until State Bar disciplinary proceedings are concluded.

Fayobserver.com had this earlier report.

WWAYnewschannel3 reports that the now former DA is set to go to trial next Monday. (Mike Frisch)

August 16, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Falling Out Leads To Passionate Litigation

The New Jersey Appellate Court has issued a 105 page opinion in a case involving former friends and business partners who "pursued their respective claims against each other with the same passion and zeal that once characterized their success in business."

The defendant and plaintiff met in 1997. At first, defendant was plaintiff's personal attorney. He later became the chief operating officer as well as general counsel to business entities of the plaintiff.

The court notes that he was also an entertainment lawyer who had represented Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Neil  Sedaka, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Bee Gees.

The plaintiff has risen from a limited eduction to great success. The defendant (who is admitted in New York but not New Jersey) was alleged to have engaged in self-dealing as well as lavish personal spending on the company dime.

In particular, the court describes a three-night, all expenses paid (by the company) trip to Las Vegas.

While the lesser mortals stayed elsewhere, the defendant had a penthouse at the Bellagio Hotel. He brought the gang back from dinner (where he let the company pick up the tab), along with "three young ladies" that he introduced as his "friends."

At the penthouse, the friends performed with, as a witness testified, "nothing on, nude show, did things to each other, that sort of stuff..." The witness was particularly impressed by the fact that the penthouse had a grand piano.

The court affirmed the rescission of the defendant's ownership interests in three entities. Further, the court affirmed legal malpractice and civil fraud claims against the defendant as in-house and general counsel as well as personal attorney for the plaintiff. Awards of counsel fees and punitive damages to the plaintiff were reversed.

The court squarely rejected the defendant's contention that RPC 1.8(a) (the business transactions with clients rule) did not apply to him as an in-house counsel.

As a sidelight, the litigation also led to the censure of the first trial judge.

The censured judge had violated judicial ethics by attending court proceedings after his recusal, a situation that did not create an issue for the court:

...we are satisfied that Judge Nugent's role as fact-finder and legal arbiter was not compromized by [former] Judge Perskie's conduct. Although we have disagreed with some of the legal rulings he made in the case, Judge Nugent's integrity as a jurist is beyond reproach.

The court departed from its usual pratice of not identiying the trial judge by name and noted that the judge had already been named in publicity generated by the case. (Mike Frisch)

August 16, 2013 in In-House, Law & Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Resigned

The Indiana Supreme Court accepted the resignation of an attorney in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings.

The Evansville Courier-Press has the story:

A Gibson County attorney convicted of criminal charges submitted his resignation from practicing law Tuesday rather than face a disciplinary hearing.

William R. Wallace III, tendered his resignation in open court before hearing officer Knox County Superior Court Judge Timothy Crowley, said Michael Witte, executive director of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

Witte said the court must still approve Wallace’s request, which typically takes from 12 to 24 months. If it is rejected then he would still face a disciplinary hearing.

The Disciplinary Commission has charged Wallace with violating three Rules of Professional Conduct: making an unsolicited, in-person contact for purposes of professional employment; having a sexual relationship with a current client; and committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

Wallace, a one-time candidate for Gibson County prosecutor, pleaded guilty to felony charges of obstructing justice and possession of child pornography in October 2011.

In April 2012, Gibson County Superior Curt Judge Earl Penrod sentenced Wallace to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to violating probation conditions on those charges and to an additional charge of voyeurism. He was released April 23, according to Indiana Department of Correction records.

Although Wallace will be able to seek reinstatement after five years, Witte said he won’t escape the discipline charges.

"Essentially they would be resurrected. Whatever disciplinary matters that were being faced would be reinstated at that time. It’s a pretty steep burden. Resignation is just short of disbarment," he said.

He said resignation is still considered a disciplinary status and does not equate to the good-standing of other law license statuses in Indiana such as retirement, voluntary withdrawal or temporary inactivity.

"It means a person was either charged with ethical violations or was under investigation for ethical violations and said, 'I can’t defend myself with these (allegations), I resign,'" Witte said.

Wallace was indicted in June 2010 after a former client claimed he recorded her sexual encounter with him without her consent. The woman said Wallace suggested he would forgive her legal fees in exchange for sex. She said she learned of the recordings after Wallace showed them to her boyfriend.

Wallace pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in October 2011 and was sentenced to 18 months of electronic home detention and probation, and ordered to register as a sex offender. He pleaded guilty to the probation violations and voyeurism charges in April 2012.

(Mike Frisch)

August 16, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Only The Special Ones"

The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint alleging that the accused public defender engaged in assaultive behavior toward three clients in criminal matters.

This conduct alleged in Count One:

Following the court appearance in case number 12 CF 354 on October 11, 2012, Respondent asked [client] L. to come back to his office. L. agreed.

On October 11, 2012, at Respondent’s office, Respondent asked L. about the events on the day of her arrest. L. described the events, and also told Respondent that her husband, who resided in Arizona, was terminally ill and in hospice care.

During their conversation, Respondent then stood up, reached over to L. and hugged her, then kissed her on the mouth, and put his tongue in her mouth. L. said nothing but did not return the kiss.

Respondent then said he could work something out with the State’s Attorney on L.’s case, and started rubbing her back. He asked L. if his rubbing "felt good."

L. responded that the "whole thing" made her nervous and upset.

Respondent then reached down and touched L.’s breasts, over her shirt and reached between her legs and rubbed her vaginal area. He then put her hand on his pants, over his erect penis, and said "see what you do to me?"

Respondent told L. that he was going to Springfield for the weekend, and asked if she would like to go with him. Respondent told L. he would tie her to the bed while he was at the conference. L. did not respond.

L’s mother then called L. on her cell phone, and L. told Respondent she had to leave, and she left his office.

On or after October 11, 20122, Respondent attempted to contact L. four to five times by telephone on several occasions. L. took one call and asked Respondent if her bond could be lowered. Respondent agreed to seek a bond reduction.

On October 18, 2012, Respondent appeared with L. before the court and requested a reduction in bond. The court reduced bond by $500.00. Respondent then offered L. a ride home and she told him that her mother was picking her up. Respondent then asked L. to go back to his office to wait, and she agreed.

When Respondent and L. were in his office following the court hearing, Respondent did not discuss her case. Respondent locked the door, and kissed L. and again inserted his tongue into her mouth. Respondent touched L.’s breasts under her shirt, and touched her between her legs, over her pants. He also rubbed her shoulders.

L. started to leave and Respondent asked her to come back the following Saturday "when no one was there." L. asked why, and Respondent said "I want to lick your pussy and suck your clit."

L. did not attend the Saturday appointment, nor did she speak to Respondent again after October 18, 2012.

After her second meeting with Respondent, L. retained a private attorney, Jeanine Garrett. On November 15, 2012, the court vacated Respondent’s appearance in all of L.'s pending cases in Coles County.

Count Two:

Respondent and [client] B. were the only people present in Respondent’s office when B. entered the office.

B. sat down in a chair in front of Respondent’s desk. Respondent did not sit at a chair behind his desk, but pulled up a chair so he was sitting directly in front of B. Respondent placed one of his legs between B.’s legs, and began to rub B.’s leg slowly.

Respondent thereafter asked B. questions about her personal life, including questions about her boyfriend.

After B. told Respondent she could not work due to a neck injury, Respondent got up and walked behind B. and started rubbing B’s neck and shoulders.

B. asked Respondent if he treated all his clients this way and Respondent said "only the special ones."

Respondent sat down after rubbing B.’s shoulders and started rubbing her leg again.

B. was feeling uncomfortable and stressed, got up and told Respondent she had to leave.

Respondent stood and hugged B., pulling her body close to his so that their bodies were touching.

After B. left Respondent’s office, she entered the car where [her boyfriend] Pittman was waiting for her, and she started crying. After B. told Pittman what had happened, she and Pittman went to the Charleston police department and made a report.

The Charleston police department referred the matter to the Coles County States’ Attorneys office, and no charges were filed.

And Count Three

...H. went to Respondent’s office at 11:00 a.m. After Respondent let H. in to his office, Respondent locked the door behind them and took her to a conference room. No one else was present at Respondent’s office.

After H. sat down, Respondent pulled up a chair next to her and said "I’m glad I got assigned to your case."

H. asked Respondent if he usually had Saturday appointments and Respondent said "I do if there is a pretty blond woman."

Respondent then said to H. "tell me about yourself," and asked her about her boyfriend, whether she had had "affairs" and whether she had "affairs" while seeing her current boyfriend. H. responded that she loved her boyfriend and would not have an affair.

Respondent started touching H’s face, and H. told Respondent she felt weird about him touching her. Respondent said "I don’t want you to feel weird about it."

During the approximately 45 minutes that H. was in Respondent’s office, Respondent did not ask her many questions about her case. H. stood up and told Respondent she had to leave, and she left his office.

H.’s next scheduled appearance in case number 2012 CF 242 was on August 27, 2012. She did not appear as scheduled because she forgot about the court date. Later on August 27, 2012, H. called Respondent about the missed court date.

Respondent told H. that he "covered" for her and that "there are different ways to pay me back."

Respondent then asked H. to come to his office on Saturday, September 1, 2012 for another appointment. H. agreed to go, but later asked her boyfriend, Bruce Brewer ("Brewer") to come with her so she would not have to be alone with Respondent.

On September 1, 2012, H. and Brewer went to Respondent’s office. Respondent discussed her case with her, and she and Brewer left after 15 minutes.

At H’s next court date, September 4, 2012, after the hearing Respondent asked H. to wait for him in the hallway outside the courtroom. H. waited for him on a bench.

Respondent came out of the courtroom and sat next to H., close enough so that his legs were touching her legs. H. moved down the bench several times, and each time, Respondent also moved down the bench so that he was sitting close to her.

Respondent touched H.’s inner thigh, between her waist and knee and rubbed her thigh for about five seconds. H. again moved away from Respondent.

Respondent said "are you afraid of me" to H. and she said "No, it just looks like you want to sit right on top of me."

Respondent then said "would you like that?" and H. said "no" and she got up and left.

On November 5, 2012, following another court date in case number 2012 PR 242, Respondent again asked H. to wait for him in the hall. H. waited on the bench, and Respondent came out of the courtroom and sat next to her, and told her she would have to do two weekends in the county jail. He then touched her inner thigh, and H. stood up and said "I’ve had enough of you touching my thigh." Respondent said he "didn’t mean anything" by it.

(Mike Frisch)

August 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

24 Years After

A motion to disbar an attorney based on a 1989 felony conviction was denied by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The court held such as sanction was not warranted

because disbarring an attorney approximately twenty-four years after his conviction and thirteen years after the Mississippi Bar restored him from inactive to active status, fails to serve the purposes of the Rules of Discipline...

There was no evidence that the aggravated assault conviction was concealed when the attorney was granted active status. The opinion does not explain why the Bar did not act until 2012.

The court characterized disbarment at this juncture as a harsh, unjust and ineffective sanction.

The attorney has not been the subject of discipline  and presently serves as chair of the Senior Lawyers Section of the Mississippi Bar Association. (Mike Frisch)

August 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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)

August 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Michigan Treats Willful Misstatements As Serious Misconduct

The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board increased a tri-county hearing panel's suspension from 60 to 180 days.

The attorney admitted a history of addictive behavior that led to a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction. Although he is a "regular and successful partipant in several recovery programs," he did not report the conviction.

His explanation: he forgot to do so.

The board commended his present candor but noted that he knowingly and intentionally failed to disclose these matters as required by his annual registration statement.

As to sanction:

The thrust of the Grievance Administrator's argument is that under longstanding precedent of this Board, respondent's willful misstatements should properly result in a suspension of at least 180 days in order to trigger the reinstatement requirements of [Michigan bar rules], if not a suspension of at least one year. This argument is persuasive.

The order of suspension also requies that the attorney cooperate with the bar's Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program. (Mike Frisch)

August 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Meaning Of Obscene

An Illinois attorney charged with ethics violations arising from a series of criminal matters has filed an answer to the complaint.

One of the incidents involves an encounter with his neighbors over the volume of music, which we reported here.

The answer in part:

Respondent denies that he verbally harassed or threatened anyone. Respondent admits that he probably called [one neighbor], and not [the other], a "fucking idiot" and "dumb bitch" after the former confronted him by pysically walking to his patio area to confront him about his complaints about the music. Respondent does not admit or deny making obscene gestures because he does not know what obscene gestures are referred to in the complaint, and does not know what the word "obscene" means as alleged in the Complaint. Respondent denies that he made shooting gestures in the direction of the children. Respondent admits that he stated to those involved that he was an attorney, but states affirmatively that he did so only in an attempt to portray that they should honor his requests to turn down the music.

The attorney also is charged with failing to report a conviction. He admits that violation, but states that he thought the duty to report only applied to felonies. (Mike Frisch)

August 15, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

90 Days for Lying And Other Misconduct

The Minnesota Supreme Court has imposed a 90-day suspension of an attorney who agreed to the sanction.

The misconduct involved "submitting false evidence and making false statements to the Director's office; failing to notify a client about a hearing; lying to a court through an associate and failing to correct the misrepresentation he caused to be made to the court; failing to timely notify clients of their appeal rights and that he would not file an appeal on their behalf; and failing to diligently pusrue a client's case, communicate with that client, and timely return a client's property..."

I'd say a 90-day suspension is a pretty big break given the violations. (mike Frisch)

August 14, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Addiction Recovery Monitoring Ordered

The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered a nine-month suspension of an attorney who was charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute.

The criminal charges had been conditionally dismissed.

The attorney filed an affidavit disclosing his "long history of addictive illness' and efforts at recovery.

Because the attorney was suspended in January 2012, he has served the nine months.

He is subject to monitoring conditions with Lawyers Helping Lawyers and will be for at least three years of suoervision. (Mike Frisch)

August 14, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unfair And Deceptive Practices

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department accepted the resignation  of an attorney in the wake of other proceedings:

Respondent co-founded and operated Credit Collections Defense Network (CCDN), an entity which purportedly offered debt relief services and legal assistance to consumers in connection with credit card debt and collection matters. By decision dated March 25, 2011, respondent was found by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, to have made false and deceptive statements in violation of the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act (15 USC § 1679b), and the Illinois Credit Service Organizations Act (815 ILCS 605/5). By decision dated March 7, 2011, CCDN was found to have repeatedly violated West Virginia's Consumer Credit and Protection Act (W Va Code § 46A-1-101 et seq.) by, inter alia, engaging in unfair and deceptive practices by failing to disclose material information about their services and misleading consumers into entering into contracts. Respondent was also found to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in West Virginia.

The court declined to consider the collateral estoppel effect of the Illinois and West Virginia  proceedings in light of the resignation. (Mike Frisch)

August 14, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fireside Chats

The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline found interim suspension without pay appropriate for a traffic court judge under felony indictment.

The court distinguished a prior matter against another judge suspended with pay because the charges against the other judge involve allegations of significantly lesser involvement.

 Here, the judge was Administrative Judge of the Traffic Court and not only is alleged to have failed to stop errant behavior of other judges but "as many as six of the overt acts charged in the Indictment to have been personally committed by [the judge]...while he was Administrative judge.

In sum:

In the case of this Respondent the conduct alleged in the Indictment is inherently disdainful of the laws he was elected to enforce, contemptuous of the law in general, took place over and over again, and became a way of life. And the law became a laughing-stock.

The opinion notes that the judge owned the Fireside Tavern and that the charges alleg that he fixed tickets for "family, friends, Fireside Tavern customers, a former politician and a Philadelphia ward leader." (Mike Frisch)

August 14, 2013 in Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Familiar Face

A town court justice who adjudicated a speeding ticket against his nephew by marriage has been admonished by the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct:

The record indicates that respondent's nephew by marriage appeared before him on two occasions with respect to the charge - initially to enter a not guilty plea, and later for sentencing. Seeing his relative, with whom he socialized several times a year, standing before him in a courtroom certainly should have reminded respondent - the defendant's uncle - of the clear conflict. In and of itself, the appearance of a judge's family member before the judge creates a serious apperance of impropriety, and under such circumstances the public can have no confidence in the judge's impartiality in the matter...Compounding the impropriety, the lenient disposition respondent imposed (reducing the Speeding charge to a parking violation and imposing a low fine) could reasonably give the impression that respondent's relative received favorable treatment, nothwithstanding that the prosecutor had recommended the reduction and notwithstanding respondent's assertion that his nephew's ticket was treated no differently than any similar ticket. Even the appearance of such favoritism is inconsistent with ethical standards and undermines public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

The justice is not an attorney. (Mike Frisch)

August 14, 2013 in Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Assault On Attorney Leads To Civil Commitment Order

The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed an order of civil commitment of a person who was unhappy with an attorney:

...defendant was charged with one count of simple assault and one count of resisting arrest.  The State alleged that on March 30, 2011, defendant went uninvited to attorney Herbert Ogden’s office in Danby.  Attorney Ogden represents defendant’s brothers in a contested estate matter against defendant.  Defendant demanded that attorney Ogden pay defendant money that he alleged that attorney Ogden owed him.  Not obtaining immediate satisfaction, defendant punched attorney Ogden in the jaw and attempted to hold his  arms behind his back and place him under arrest.  After repeatedly being told to leave by attorney Ogden, defendant ultimately left the office.

The court also rejected a claim that the trial judge improperly failed to recuse herself. (Mike Frisch)

August 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Mighty Struggle

A Louisiana Hearing Committee has recommended a three-year suspension of an attorney who, among other things, continued to practice after the probation imposed in an earlier disciplinary matter had been revoked.

The committee had a parting observation:

The Committee has unanimously requested that this opinion note that this Committee struggled mightily wirh recommending a harsher sanction.

(Mike Frisch)

August 13, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Phone Call Worth Returning

An attorney whose sole alleged violation of ethics rules was failure to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation was disbarred by the New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department:

On November 28, 2012, staff counsel for the Grievance Committee telephoned the respondent's law firm and left a message for the respondent stating that it was imperative that she return staff counsel's telephone call. Staff counsel did not receive a reply from the respondent, and placed another telephone call to the respondent's law firm on November 29, 2012. Staff counsel spoke to the receptionist, who advised that she had relayed his earlier message to the respondent. Staff counsel advised that it was paramount that the respondent call him as soon as possible.

To date, the respondent has failed to call the Grievance Committee or submit an answer to the petition.

A copy of the instant motion was personally served on the respondent on December 10, 2012. The respondent has failed to respond to the motion or move for additional time in which to submit a response.

Accordingly, the Grievance Committee's motion is granted, the charge in the petition is deemed established, and, effective immediately, the respondent is disbarred upon her default, and her name is stricken from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law.

The attorney had twice been admonished for similar violations. (Mike Frisch)

August 13, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Child Porn Conviction Leads To Interim Suspension

The Vermont Supreme Court has imposed an interim suspension of an attorney convicted of a "serious crime."

WCAX.com reported on the arrest:

Vermont's top federal prosecutor is calling it the most gross debasement and vilest kind of violation imaginable.

"People who may be out there who are possessing child pornography or distributing or sharing it, they need to understand that their days are numbered," said Tristram Coffin, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont.

He and other law enforcement agencies have declared war. Operation Green Wave is one of the first coordinated efforts in New England to take down child pornographers. It involved 30 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and led to the arrest of nine Vermont men.

"Those arrested today come from all walks of life; one is a lawyer, another a photographer, one individual was even a voice coach at a local college," said Deputy Special Agent Matt Etre of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Investigators say these men were charged with the possession and distribution of pornographic material of prepubescent children. Although authorities would not say if any of the victims are Vermont kids, court papers show an investigator recognized one female child as a Vermonter. Authorities warn that there is a very real correlation between looking at kiddie porn and the possibility of hands-on abuse.

"This week we stopped the predators in their tracks and the security of Vermont's children is better off for it," Etre said.

"I want Vermonters to understand that this is quite simply the tip of the iceberg," said Bill Sorrell, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Authorities say the internet and file sharing has made it easier for sexual predators to exploit children. And although they called the problem "prevalent" in Vermont, they would not say how many more cases may be out there. They're also aware that publicizing this issue may force some of the predators into hiding. It's a risk they're willing to take.

"If it causes some people to get rid of what they have available for sharing than that's a good day at the office," Sorrell said.

The attorney general says Vermont has largely depended on the federal authorities to investigate and prosecute these cases. He says the state needs to step up its efforts. Those additional resources will come with a $200,000 price tag. Sorrell is currently waiting for state lawmakers to approve the funds.

The suspension will stay in effect until disciplinary proceedings conclude. (Mike Frisch)

August 12, 2013 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)