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In re Char

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

July 18, 2017

In the Matter of Edward M. Char (admitted as Edward Martin Char), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Edward M. Char, Respondent.

         Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Edward M. Char, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial Department on May 7, 2003.

          Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New York (Kathy W. Parrino, of counsel), for petitioner.

          Respondent pro se.

          David Friedman, Justice Presiding, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Karla Moskowitz, Judith J. Gische, Ellen Gesmer, Justices.

          PER CURIAM

         Respondent Edward M. Char was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on May 7, 2003, under the name Edward Martin Char [1]. At all times relevant herein, respondent maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department.

         The Attorney Grievance Committee seeks an order, pursuant to the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) 1240.9(a)(3), immediately suspending respondent from the practice of law based upon his failure to cooperate with the Committee's investigation of three complaints, two filed by clients and one stemming from eight dishonored checks drawn against his law firm's IOLA account, which conduct immediately threatens the public interest.

         In September 2016, the Committee received a complaint from respondent's client, A. M., alleging that she and her husband retained respondent in 2014 to represent them in a partition action, including an appeal to this Court, and respondent eventually ceased communicating with them. A. M.'s complaint further alleged it was only after they consulted with other counsel that they learned respondent had "abandoned" their case.

         By letter dated September 23, 2016, the Committee requested respondent submit an answer to A. M.'s complaint within 20 days; respondent failed to do so. By an October 18, 2016 email, the Committee advised respondent to submit an answer to A. M.'s complaint within 10 days. He acknowledged receipt of the email the same day, but did not submit an answer.

         By letter dated November 9, 2016, the Committee again asked respondent to submit an answer to A. M.'s complaint within 10 days, and advised him that failure to do so could result in his interim suspension. The Committee received the certified mail return-receipt signed by respondent's office assistant; however, respondent did not answer.

         By letter dated December 6, 2016, sent by priority mail and email, the Committee requested respondent schedule his examination under oath. U.S. Postal Service (USPS) records indicate that the Committee's letter was delivered to respondent's office the following day, December 7, 2016; however, respondent did not contact the Committee.

         On December 22, 2016, the Committee personally served respondent with a judicial subpoena directing him to, inter alia, appear for a deposition on January 12, 2017. The deposition was later adjourned to January 26, 2017, at respondent's request. When respondent appeared at the Committee on January 26, he requested an adjournment to retain counsel and promised to notify the Committee by February 8, 2017 whether he had retained counsel or would proceed pro se. Respondent did not contact the Committee, as promised.

         The Committee advised respondent be email that his deposition had been rescheduled for February 22, 2017. Respondent responded by email that he had purportedly spoken with "a few" attorneys but had not yet "determin[ed] which to hire" and requested that his deposition be adjourned until the week of March 6, 2017. The Committee declined to do so and advised respondent that his deposition would remain scheduled for February 22, 2017, but that if he should retain counsel prior to that date he should have his attorney contact the Committee to reschedule the deposition.

         Respondent appeared for his deposition on February 22, 2017, and advised the Committee that he would proceed pro se. Respondent claimed that he had previously submitted an answer to A. M.'s complaint; however, the Committee informed him that it had no record of having received it. Respondent promised to "resubmit" his answer within 10 days, but failed to do so. Respondent denied that he failed to communicate with his clients, and claimed that in or about December 2015/January 2016 A. M. told him that she and her husband did not want respondent to perfect the appeal because they were purportedly close to reaching a settlement with the adverse party, with whom they were supposedly in direct contact, notwithstanding that both parties were represented by ...


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