- Lawyer represented a client in a divorce and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Lawyer received $10,000 bank check payable to her client as part of divorce settlement.
- Instead of turning the check over to her client, lawyer endorsed the check with her client’s name, kept more than $7,300 and sent a check to her client for the balance.
- Now to make matters worse, lawyer files a false police report stating that her client had stolen $10,000 from her.
- When asked during testimony, lawyer admitted she filed a false police report to cover her tracks of forgery.
- The client was arrested based upon the false police report.
- Client hired new counsel and filed an adversary complaint seeking to recover payments made to her former attorney and damages resulting from violation from automatic stay.
- Initial attorney violated the automatic stay and awarded $12,500 in punitive damages to client.
- Attorney violated Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and was ordered to pay client $15,400 for the client’s wrongful imprisonment and other expenses she incurred.
- To top all, the attorney filed for Bankruptcy.
- Court ruled that the $27,920 was non-dischargeable in the lawyer’s bankruptcy, keep in mind the Judge is the one overseeing the lawyer’s bankruptcy case.
- Court recommended that the attorney be disbarred and sent the matter to a further State Court.
- Court issued writs of garnishment which led to a hold on funds Lawyer owed to client.
- To add insult to injury, the lawyer decides to appeal the Judge’s ruling of her egregious conduct. The lawyer also felt the Judge overstepped his bounds.
- Appeal was denied.
Moral of story: lawyers are not above the law and be careful who you hire. Hiring a Board-Certified lawyer is a good bar to set.