Monday, September 19, 2016
An attorney who engaged in misconduct in several matters was suspended for a year and a day by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
He had offered this explanation for his failures to appear and contempt to court
Respondent told the Court that he had just opened a bar in Old City and taken on more cases than he could manage.
Respondent believes that there would be a thousand or more contempts filed every day in Philadelphia if contempts were issued for every attorney who wasn't there when the judge called his list. N.T. 325. He believes showing up late is somewhat routine. N.T. 325.
Respondent claims that out of 4,000 court appearances he has had less than five contempts.
The Disciplinary Board
A prevailing theme in the client matters and in Respondent's contempt of court is his disorganized approach to the practice of law. Respondent acknowledged this problem and referenced other events in his personal life, such as the opening of a bar, which he apparently prioritized above his clients' matters. Respondent produced no evidence to suggest that he has put in place any method to safeguard against similar conduct in the future in order to keep clients or the court adequately informed and to attend to and meet critical deadlines, discovery, hearings, motions and trials.
Importantly, Respondent has not acknowledged or recognized the impact of his actions on his clients or the court system. He displayed a sometime cynical and/or cavalier attitude toward his ethical duties. In the Price matter, he seemed to be more upset over the fact that the successor counsel was paid more money than Respondent had been paid, rather than showing concern tor his failure to communicate with his client or timely surrender the client's tile. In the Dumas-Brooks contempt matter where Respondent failed to appear or respond to the court, he stated that there was no harm because the court itself delayed sentencing and therefore his delay was not significant. He minimized his criminal contempt convictions, indicating that showing up late to court is routine tor lawyers and that out of 4,000 court appearances he has had less than five contempts. He appears to believe that being held in contempt of court is acceptable and simply the cost of conducting business.
The case is Michael Stosic and can be found at this link. (M1ke Frisch)