Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mediator Charged With Failure To Disclose Potential Conflict Of Interest

The Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission has filed charges against an attorney admitted in 1982.

The charges are somewhat unusual in that they involve an alleged conflict of interest in the attorney's  role as a court-appointed mediator. 

The attorney has served as Chair of the State Bar Family Law Section and as chair of the Family Mediation Counsel - Michigan.

The charges allege that the attorney was "social friends" and "professional colleagues" with the wife's counsel and that she had a standing invitation to stay at counsel's Florida home.

When opposing counsel inquired

Respondent knew or should have known she was not providing Attorney Zanolli with complete or accurate information regarding her relationship with Attorney Weiner, and specifically had omitted the information that she had a standing invitation to stay at Attorney Weiner's Florida home.

The complaint alleges that the attorney entered a series of orders while planning (and not disclosing) two Florida trips

Respondent did not inform Mr. Hartman or his [new] attorney, Barbara Smith, that Respondent had travel plans to stay at Attorney Weiner's Florida home with Attorney Weiner on February 23, 2011.

She continued to mediate  the interpretation of the settlement agreement reached by the parties but

Respondent did not inform Mr.Hartman or his attorney, Attorney Smith, that Respondent had travel plans to stay at Attorney Weiner's Florida home with Attorney Weiner on February 23, 2011...

During the February 18, 2011 conversation, Respondent informed Attorney Smith that she had travel plans and, in response to Attorney Smith's inquiries, revealed, for the first time, her travel plans to stay at Attorney Weiner's Florida with Attorney Weiner...

On February 23, 201 1 , Respondent and her husband traveled to Attorney Weiner's home, where they were joined by Judge Martha Anderson and her husband.

While staying at Attorney Weiner's Florida home with Attorney Weiner, Respondent was sent letters from Attorney Weiner regarding the Hartman divorce.

The attorney thereafter refused to remove herself from the case

On March 2, 2011 , Mr. Hartman, through counsel, filed a motion to remove Respondent as the arbitrator for the remaining issues, to vacate the arbitration awards, and to set aside the Settlement Agreement.

The judge did not vacate the settlement took took over responsibility for the remaining issues. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2016/12/the-michigan-attorney-grievance-commission-has-filed-charges-against-an-attorney-admitted-in-1982-alleging-failure-to-disclos.html

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