New York Appeals Court sanctions lawyer with $10,000.00 penalty and fees and costs for “frivolous, outrageous and unprofessional” deposition behavior

Hello and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent opinion of the New York sanctioned a New York attorney for “frivolous, outrageous, and unprofessional behavior” during a deposition, saying he interrupted questioning, made improper objections and delivered meritless speeches.  The opinion is Cadlerock Joint Venture, L.P. v Sol Greenberg & Sons Intl., Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op 02944, Appellate Division, First Department (April 19, 2012).

In the underlying litigation, the lawyer (Joseph Sahid) represented Sol Greenberg & Sons, a bankrupt diamond business that apparently owed more than $1 million to Cadlerock Joint Venture, which had been assigned the debt from a bank.  The lawyer claimed he provided representation pro bono to Sol Greenberg & Sons after a referral from the NYC Bar Association.  The lawyer’s misconduct occurred at a deposition in 2010 in which Cadlerock’s lawyer was attempting to obtain information that might help satisfy the amount owed.

In its opinion, the NY Appellate Division, First Department, said that the lawyer “repeatedly interrupted the questioning and made improper objections and lengthy speeches that had no merit” at the deposition and “(h)e also improperly interrupted the witness’s answers and conferred with the witness (his client) mid-answer.  He insulted plaintiff’s counsel, Justice Solomon (the judge overseeing the case), and (the judge’s) clerk, and even the court reporter, who was eventually compelled to leave the deposition due to the abuse of defendants’ counsel.”  The opinion imposed a $10,000 fine/penalty and ordered that the lawyer pay costs and attorneys’ fees.

The brief filed by Cadlerock’s attorney stated that the lawyer called Giordano (the deponent) a “liar” and made other insults, and also claimed he verbally abused the court reporter.

The opinion reversed a 2010 decision by the trial judge (Solomon), who declined to issue sanctions against the lawyer and referred the matter to the NY departmental disciplinary committee, which she said was the more appropriate venue for investigation and any sanction.  The opinion ordered the lawyer to pay the $10,000.00 penalty to the NY Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection and he was also ordered to pay the opposing party for the fees and costs to pursue the sanctions motion.  The disciplinary investigation based upon the referral of the trial judge is apparently continuing.

Bottom line: This lawyer was sanctioned for his misbehavior at a deposition and ordered to pay a penalty of $10K and attorney’s fees and costs.  He will also be subject to disciplinary sanctions after the NY disciplinary agency completes its investigation.

Be careful out there!

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.

PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS

DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES

(AND MUCH MORE!)

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at jcorsmeier@jac-law.com.  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

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Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

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jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, Florida Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, joe corsmeier, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism

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