Friday, May 21, 2004

Request Permission To Speak, Your Honor

How could I not post this story from the Sun-Sentinel?

NEW YORK – A lawyer who barked like a dog at a witness during a deposition has been fined $8,500 for misconduct and harassment of opponents.

The lawyer, David Fink, made false statements, failed to comply with court orders and engaged in frivolous conduct during a breach of contract suit over home furnishing designs, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos said.

Fink’s client Carl Levine represents designers of home furnishings to manufacturers and other licensees. He sued a married couple, Laurette Angsten and Kit Kittle, alleging they did not pay him money they owed for marketing their products.

During a deposition in which Kittle was giving sworn statements on Jan. 16, 2002, he referred to letters he had received from Fink. He called them threatening, “mad dog lawyer” letters, according to Kittle’s lawyer, Samuel Friedman.

At the continuation of the deposition the next day, Friedman said, Fink started barking like a dog when Kittle was asked about the letters by Donald Creadore, the lawyer who had taken over Levine’s case from Fink.

Friedman said Fink “behaved in a very mocking manner, making the witness feel intimidated, speaking over other people and making it difficult for the court reporter to record much of anything.”

Friedman complained to Ramos about Fink’s behavior.

“Mr. Fink was barking up the wrong tree,” the lawyer quipped as he recalled the deposition. “I don’t know what motivated him to bark.”

After having a special referee review Fink’s behavior, Ramos followed the recommendations and fined Fink, according to the judge’s 54-page decision, which was published Thursday. The lawyer had already been assessed another $1,400 for previous misconduct in the case.

The special referee also recommended that Ramos report Fink to the disciplinary committee that monitors lawyers’ conduct. Ramos’ decision did not reveal whether he reported Fink, and Friedman said he did not know whether the judge had done so.

Fink did not return calls for comment. Creadore said he had no comment.

Meanwhile, the judge ruled against Levine in the underlying case, saying he was not entitled to royalties or commissions from Kittle and Angsten.