N.Y.: “P.I. Lawyers Are Suspended for Encouraging Client to Lie”

by Walter Olson on May 21, 2013

“Two Fordham University law school classmates who set up a law practice together a few years after graduating are now both facing nine-month suspensions for pursuing a fraudulent personal injury case.” Daniel Levy and Shane Rios represented a woman who claimed to have slipped in front of a Yonkers church; when they investigated the sidewalks, they found no problem with the church’s, but did find a trip hazard in front of a house across the street. They advised her that she would have a winning case only against the homeowner, not the church, and she changed her story accordingly. They proceeded to conceal the original stance of the case both from the court and from a third lawyer they brought in to help. To the New York courts, this misconduct merited a suspension only of nine months. [ABA Journal, New York Law Journal]

P.S. “Maryland would have disbarred these clowns.” [@BruceGodfrey]

{ 7 comments }

1 Ron Miller 05.21.13 at 10:40 am

They blame youth and inexperience, lawyers rushed into business for themselves by an awful market for legal services. That makes sense… until you actually think about it. Experience as a lawyer does not make you more or less of an ethical person. Being a lawyer does not make you a better person. (Sure, feel free to fill in your own joke here.)

2 VMS 05.21.13 at 1:56 pm

In New York a suspension for “only” 9 months really means several years. For suspensions of 6 months or less, the process to be reinstated is relatively streamlined and reinstatement is more or less automatic. These attorneys can first reapply after 9 months, but the review process comprising an application, a hearing, a report, etc. can take 2 years.

3 Jack Olson 05.21.13 at 2:26 pm

When you ask lawyers to explain why their profession is so widely despised, they usually answer that this is the work of a small number of corrupt attorneys who ruin the reputation of the honest majority. Yet, when two corrupt attorneys get caught attempting fraud, they aren’t disbarred. They are suspended for only nine months, which is less time than they spent conducting a fraudulent lawsuit. If the other lawyers blame a corrupt few for the profession’s reputation for corruption yet allow those who get caught back into legal practice after a brief time-out, they must not much mind their corrupt reputation. If Ron Miller asks for a lawyer joke, try “professional discipline.”

4 Jerryskids 05.21.13 at 2:28 pm

Well, it’s not like they actually committed a crime.

“I am presently incarcerated, imprisoned for a crime I did not even commit. “Attempted murder,” now honestly, did they ever give anyone a Nobel prize for “attempted chemistry?”

/Sideshow Bob

5 No Name Guy 05.21.13 at 3:13 pm

What we need is a board of engineers and doctors sitting as the disciplinary committee for lawyer misconduct.

Turn about would be oh so fair play.

6 Bumper 05.21.13 at 10:46 pm

Well, Jerryskids, they did give Obama a Nobel prize for the judges thinking he was going to do something. Silly judges.

7 Ed 05.23.13 at 9:42 am

The legal definition of Fraud: “A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.”

Yes; they committed a crime, the fact that they got caught before the fraud was successful is irrelevant.

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