Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An Email into me regarding Attorney Misconduct

January 14, 2007, 12:06 PM EST

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The arrest and conviction of several attorneys on charges of stealing clients' money has prompted the Connecticut Bar Association and state judicial officials to impose stiffer penalties for lawbreaking lawyers.

In the last three years, seven lawyers in the Fairfield County area have been arrested on larceny and other charges. Attorneys elsewhere in the state also have faced various charges, though the total number represents a minuscule proportion of the state's 16,000 lawyers.

Former state bar president Fred Ury, who serves on bar association's Task Force on Attorney Client Funds, and Mark Dubois, state Judicial Branch Chief Disciplinary Counsel, have been trying to figure out why as much as $20 million in client funds have been misappropriated statewide over the past three years.

Ury and Dubois said they see a pattern. They call it "the middle-aged white guy scenario" because many of the 20 or so lawyers who have been accused of bilking clients fit that description.

"At that time in their careers, they have access to more money and people tend to unravel in mid-life crisis," Dubois said. "The kids have gone to college and left home, sometimes there is divorce or some other family tension and usually there is some form of addictive behavior like gambling, alcohol, drugs or sex."

Bill Durkin, president of the Fairfield County Bar Association, said more publicity and stepped up prosecution _ not more lawyers who are caught _ are driving lawyers and authorities to act against dishonesty in the legal profession.

"I don't think that anything is going on rather than the system is working," he said. "I think that it is more likely now that the situations are getting greater public attention for the reasons that the legal authorities are taking aggressive steps on this."

Dubois said the Judicial Branch's Office of the Chief Disciplinary Council, which was established in 2004 to pursue lawyer grievance complaints, is doing its best to head off misappropriation of money.

"We have a new regime in place," he said. "Whether we will be able to stop the stealing, I don't know."

A new rule went into effect Jan. 1 that call for mandatory disbarment of lawyers who steal from clients. The rule prohibits attorneys from reapplying for membership to the bar for 12 years, Dubois said.

Beginning July 1, another rule will allow the Chief Disciplinary Council to conduct random audits of attorneys' client trust fund accounts.

Yet another rule change gives Dubois quick access to the financial records of any client trustee account when an overdraft is recorded. In the past, the process to legally begin auditing those accounts took at least six months to complete, he said.

And the General Assembly this year also will consider legislation requiring lawyers who hold money for clients be bonded.

Using lawyers' money, the Judicial Branch has established a lawyer assistance program that offers referrals to lawyers with addiction, mental health and other problems.

Dubois said few clients have been victimized by their lawyers in part because of the Connecticut Client Security fund set up in 1999. The account, which has paid more than $7 million in claims since its inception, is funded by lawyers who practice in the state.

___

Information from: The Advocate, http://www.stamfordadvocate.com

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish these rules were in effect a few years ago.....
I have a very unusual attorney Grievance going on re: Gangstalking originated by probate attorney.....So much fraud he committed!

Friday, January 23, 2009 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Stark Raving Viking said...

I'd like to hear more.

stevengerickson@yahoo.com

Friday, January 23, 2009 2:41:00 PM  

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