Judiciary Law 487 and Legal Malpractice

Here is a worthy article on Judicary Law section 487 by  Norman B. Arnoff and Sue C. Jacobs in  the October 24, 2007 New York Law Journal.  It should be read by attorneys, as this statute applies to them alone.

"Lawyers are officers of the court, as such, they must be ethically responsible not only in the courtroom but in all aspects of their professional lives. The omnipresence of the attorney's ethical obligations assures that the law will be soundly interpreted and applied.

In order to guarantee lawyers have a heightened consciousness for their professional and ethical obligations inside the courtroom and beyond, there are several statutes and court rules to which members of the bar should pay serious attention.

A serious point for consideration by every member of the New York Bar is Judiciary Law §487, which provides:

An attorney or counselor who:

1. Is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion with intent to deceive the court or any party, or

2. Willfully delays the client's suit with a view to his own gain, or willfully receives any money or allowance for an account of any money which he has not laid out, or becomes answerable for

Is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefore by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.

The statute is intended not merely to deter litigation abuse but the misuse of client funds in connection with litigation. The statute covers a lawyer's deception of the court or any party to the litigation including the lawyer's client or a party not represented by the lawyer whose conduct is in issue. The statute's intent is to deter serious misconduct that possibly rises to the level of criminality and as a result subjects the lawyer to treble damages to the injured party in a civil action. "

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