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Okay, then. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Okay, then.

You (if "you" are of a certain age) remember the frequent trope from Bugs Bunny cartoons. A character is bamboozled, and upon realizing it, does a fantastic turn into a standup piece of candy:

You can see it here, although the recording they uploaded kinda sucks.

As does what I found out at, oh, close to ten last night.

I told a couple of stories here a few weeks ago about the lonely and dangerous road that lawyers sometimes travel on. Not much new to say about L1 from that tale, the one I've known for awhile, but the road for L2 just came to a sad and, for me and a mutual client, a rather deceitful end.

The short version: I was hired to work with L2 for a client, after it started having communication problems with him. It took me weeks to have any communication with him at all, and I eventually had to resort to an extreme remedy- moving for a court order to replace him.  Usually, you don't have to do this; clients always have an absolute right to hire and fire (subject to any right of payment you might have), and it's almost always resolved by just signing and filing documents to reflect the change. But this guy could not be reached- not by email, phone or even on in-person visits.

The day after I got an initial order signed to provide for his discharge, but before I'd served it, he suddenly emailed me, and he was suddenly cooperative. I told him I had papers for him I needed him to see that day, but he was out of town, so I delivered them as the order required and waited.  A week later, he met me in the lobby of a courthouse I had business at, and signed the necessary consent papers. He still wanted to help, and the client still wanted his help, so we agreed to meet about it two days ago. He was more-or-less prompt, completely candid about the case itself, and we made plans to meet next week to update things.

Then he walked into a courtroom yesterday and got himself disbarred:

A Buffalo attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $18,550 from an escrow account that held money to be paid to his client as part of a proposed settlement of a civil lawsuit he had filed for the client.

[The 45-year-old] faces a maximum prison term of 28 months to seven years when he is sentenced July 14 by Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka on a felony charge of third-degree grand larceny. He was released on his own recognizance.

His attorney [said he] hopes to make restitution payments between now and sentencing.

In the meantime, [he] is disbarred as a result of pleading guilty to a felony, according to Assistant District Attorney Brian P. Dassero.

The prosecutor said [he] used the money for personal expenses, including paying for his children’s education, between April 1, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2013.

This was within a day of his sitting five feet away from me, talking about our case's history and what he hoped to do to help.

I had to break it to the client this morning (mine was not the one embezzled from), and we're going to regroup in a couple of days to decide how best to proceed.

I saw the signs a month ago- nonresponsiveness, broken promises, yet still with a goodness about both the quality and quantity of work he was delivering when you did communicate with him.  I'd never encountered him before this occasion, but I wonder how many other lawyers, judges, other bar officials did have such encounters and did nothing to stop it and nothing to help.

Because any of us can be one bad circumstance away from being in the exact same place.

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