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Lawyer Sanctioned for Disclosing What A Judge Should Have

by Carolyn Elefant on February 15, 2005 · 6 comments

in Ethics Issues, Judges and Court News

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Here’s another outrageous story of judicial heavyhandedness.  This story,  Attorneys Sanctioned for Representing Client’s Challenges of Judicial Ethics (Empire Journal 2/14/05).  According to the article, the New York Appellate Division, First Department sanctioned two New York attorneys (to the tune of $2000 and $250 respectively) for “frivolous conduct” when they argued that a judge who had a financial stake in the defendant’s company should have recused herself from the case.  Apparently, the court even agreed that the judge was required to disclose any financial interest, however small, but upheld the outcome of the case nonetheless.  See also this link at New York Lawyer.

So how is it frivolous to raise an argument that the court ultimately accepts?  Only in the universe where judge’s attempt to intimidate attorneys from exposing any negative conduct, I guess.

  • http://www.jslogan.com Jim Logan

    With certain differences…it’s “don’t make the boos look bad in public.”

  • http://www.jslogan.com Jim Logan

    With certain differences…it’s “don’t make the boos look bad in public.”

  • http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/legal_blog_watch/2005/02/just_another_ou.html Legal Blog Watch

    JUST “ANOTHER OUTRAGEOUS STORY OF JUDICIAL HEAVY-HANDEDNESS”

    Here, courtesy of Carolyn Elefant.

  • http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/legal_blog_watch/2005/02/just_another_ou.html Legal Blog Watch

    JUST “ANOTHER OUTRAGEOUS STORY OF JUDICIAL HEAVY-HANDEDNESS”

    Here, courtesy of Carolyn Elefant.

  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq David Giacalone

    Carolyn, you might want to find a source other than The Empire Journal (home of the “Stop Judicial Tryranny Ribbon”) before concluding that the Appellate Division has engaged in “outrageous” behavior.
    I have not located the sanction decision yet in this case, but the initial appellate decision on the merits is here, and it appears that the Client, Anthony DeRosa raised defenses to the foreclosure that were without merit as a matter of law. (DeRosa v JP Morgan Chase, 2004 NYSlipOp 02116, March 23, 2004).
    The issue of the trial judge’s recusal was mooted by that decision, because the Appellate Court ruled her decision to be null and void and then ruled on the merits against DeRosa, since only questions of law were presented.
    Thereafter, attorneys Cohen and Shanahan moved for rehearing on behalf of DeRosa. It was this rehearing request that provoked the show cause order on sanctions. The reasons given by the court in its second decision, DeRosa v Chase Manhattan Mtge. Corp. (App. Div. 1st Dept., Dkt. 1918, 2004 NYSlipOp 06446) appear to be that the lawyers had, besides showing no reason why the prior decision should be reopened, (1) improperly alterred the caption of the matter, and (2) improperly added 10 pages of the trial judge’s personal financial records.
    Furthermore, according to the New York Law Journal article (Feb. 14, 2005):

    Last week, the court issued its third ruling in the case, saying Mr. DeRosa’s attorneys amended an appellate caption to include both corporate names in an attempt to bolster their argument against Justice Diamond.
    The court said Mr. Cohen expressed no remorse for his actions and made “derogatory and undignified statements about the judiciary.”
    The court said Mr. Shanahan accepted responsibility for the act and demonstrated respect for the court. Mr. Shanahan said, “I was sanctioned $250 in a pro bono case that I’ve never been paid for. The message is that for unpopular litigants, anyone who dares represent them ought to watch their step.”
    Mr. Cohen could not be reached for comment.

    Outrageous? If I can get the court’s opinion imposing sanctions, I’ll let you know. But, until then, I’m withholding judgment.

  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq David Giacalone

    Carolyn, you might want to find a source other than The Empire Journal (home of the “Stop Judicial Tryranny Ribbon”) before concluding that the Appellate Division has engaged in “outrageous” behavior.
    I have not located the sanction decision yet in this case, but the initial appellate decision on the merits is here, and it appears that the Client, Anthony DeRosa raised defenses to the foreclosure that were without merit as a matter of law. (DeRosa v JP Morgan Chase, 2004 NYSlipOp 02116, March 23, 2004).
    The issue of the trial judge’s recusal was mooted by that decision, because the Appellate Court ruled her decision to be null and void and then ruled on the merits against DeRosa, since only questions of law were presented.
    Thereafter, attorneys Cohen and Shanahan moved for rehearing on behalf of DeRosa. It was this rehearing request that provoked the show cause order on sanctions. The reasons given by the court in its second decision, DeRosa v Chase Manhattan Mtge. Corp. (App. Div. 1st Dept., Dkt. 1918, 2004 NYSlipOp 06446) appear to be that the lawyers had, besides showing no reason why the prior decision should be reopened, (1) improperly alterred the caption of the matter, and (2) improperly added 10 pages of the trial judge’s personal financial records.
    Furthermore, according to the New York Law Journal article (Feb. 14, 2005):

    Last week, the court issued its third ruling in the case, saying Mr. DeRosa’s attorneys amended an appellate caption to include both corporate names in an attempt to bolster their argument against Justice Diamond.
    The court said Mr. Cohen expressed no remorse for his actions and made “derogatory and undignified statements about the judiciary.”
    The court said Mr. Shanahan accepted responsibility for the act and demonstrated respect for the court. Mr. Shanahan said, “I was sanctioned $250 in a pro bono case that I’ve never been paid for. The message is that for unpopular litigants, anyone who dares represent them ought to watch their step.”
    Mr. Cohen could not be reached for comment.

    Outrageous? If I can get the court’s opinion imposing sanctions, I’ll let you know. But, until then, I’m withholding judgment.

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