Legal Ethics

Lawyer fined $20K for failing to vet frivolous case


A Pennsylvania lawyer who failed to properly vet what a federal judge characterized as a frivolous gun malfunction case has been hit with a $20,000 fine.

Jason Schiffman’s explanation that he reasonably relied on his client didn’t sit well with U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch, according to the Legal Intelligencer.

“Counsel’s errors are more troubling than his characterization suggests, and his conduct can be described more accurately as that of an attorney who ignored red flags surrounding the veracity and plausibility of his client’s story [and] lodged allegations without having reasonable belief that they were well-grounded in fact,” Bloch found.

The case involved a claim by Regis Ellis, who maintained a Beemiller Hi-Point C9 9 mm pistol exploded in his hand in 2007. He later changed his testimony and experts on both sides agreed the incident couldn’t have happened the way Ellis initially claimed. However, Schiffman continued with the case anyway, the Intelligencer reports.

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