Tuesday, December 29, 2020
I have mentioned previously that I am a big fan of the web page of the Vermont disciplinary system, which provides easy access to all pleadings in bar cases.
An interesting pending matter involves a petition charging misconduct filed by a Special Disciplinary Counsel ("SPC") against an attorney who is also an ordained rabbi.
On or about March 18, 2019, Stuart Jay Robinson, a licensed Vermont attorney, presented, participated in presenting, or threatened to present criminal charges in order to obtain an advantage in a civil matter; to wit: in a letter threatening civil litigation against Verne Backus, MD, and sent to Dr. Backus, the Respondent threated to present criminal charges, in violation of Vermont Rule of Professional Conduct 4.5. (“A lawyer shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges in order to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.”).
The client had filed a civil suit for an accident involving a state trooper; Dr. Backus performed the IME for the defendant State of Vermont.
The jury found the state trooper liable but awarded no damages.
Respondent then filed a suit alleging that the doctor had committed perjury.
According to the allegations, the Vermont Supreme Court rejected the claims in the underlying litigation against the State.
The civil action against the doctor was dismissed.
The correspondence between SDC and Respondent is somewhat noteworthy and is described at length in the petition.
The SPC generally uses the salutation Attorney.
Respondent in a September 23, 2019 reply signs off
L’Shanah Tova, Happy New Year 5780.
Rabbi Stuart Jay Robinson, Esq
This seems to occur throughout the correspondence between them.
When Respondent noted that the Sukkot celebration had delayed his response, the SPC's rejoinder included this
I’ve been aware of when the Jewish Holidays fall since completing my first year of Hebrew School at the age of 5.
The Respondent is alleged to have delayed the proceedings and refused to make his client available for an interview with the bar prosecutor.
Respondent’s Counsel: Self
Special Disciplinary Counsel: Adrian, Edward
Docket Number: PRB Docket No. 2020-007
Status: On December 11, 2020 a Petition of Misconduct was filed. Answer is due on December 31, 2020. Hearing Panel to be assigned.