Hello and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert 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.
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