The confluence of money, crime and high-stakes litigation is titillating. When we read about people paying $108 in restitution, then facing RICO claims from the mother-in-law, and then being sued for deceit under Judiciary Law 487, it seems like a movie.
In today’sNew York Law Journal, Andrew Keshner writes about Ira Lee Sorkin, Judd Burstein and Jonathan Winston.
"An adversary is seeking triple damages from Ira Lee Sorkin of Lowenstein Sandler for allegedly telling a federal judge "outright lies" about his possession of a privileged document that contributed to the judge’s decision to disqualify Sorkin from the case.
Last November, Eastern District Judge Arthur Spatt, sitting in Central Islip, disqualified Sorkin from pressing a civil racketeering suit against real estate developer Jonathan Winston. Spatt noted Sorkin’s prior representation of Winston and Sorkin’s possession of a memorandum that Winston’s defense attorneys drafted but never filed in court seeking to terminate Winston’s probation after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Spatt said Sorkin offered "varying accounts" of how he got the memo, which, Spatt added, was "clearly protected under the work product privilege" (NYLJ, Nov. 27, 2012).
After Spatt dismissed the civil racketeering suit on July 3, Winston filed suit against Sorkin on Tuesday in Nassau County Supreme Court under Judiciary Law §487, alleging Sorkin "engaged in deceit with intent to deceive the Court," when he explained to Spatt how he got the draft memorandum. "
The complaint in Winston v. Sorkin, 8227/13, argues that Sorkin first "improperly made use of an unquestionably privileged draft of a proposed court filing" as he prepared the civil racketeering suit. Then, "when counsel for Winston discovered Sorkin’s improper use of the Probation Memo, Sorkin embarked upon a course of deceitful conduct that involved offering numerous, conflicting explanations of how he came into possession of the Probation Memo, culminating in outright lies made in Court."
"Represented by Judd Burstein of Manhattan, Winston seeks damages of three times the cost of litigating the disqualification motion.
Burstein in an interview estimated legal bills connected to the case at about $100,000 and stressed the underlying case was "entirely frivolous" and a "fraud."
Sorkin said he had not yet seen the suit and declined further comment.
In 1999, Winston retained Sorkin to represent him after the National Association of Securities Dealers—the predecessor of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority—launched a probe into Winston and his securities brokerage firm, First United Equities Corporation.
When Winston became aware that he was also the subject of a criminal probe by the Eastern District U.S. attorney, he asked Sorkin to defend him but Sorkin declined, citing a conflict of interest"