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.
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.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Kathy W. Parrino, of counsel), for petitioner.
Respondent pro se.
Friedman, Justice Presiding, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Karla
Moskowitz, Judith J. Gische, Ellen Gesmer, Justices.
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 . At all times
relevant herein, respondent maintained an office for the
practice of law within the First Judicial Department.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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