Lawyer accused of feeding answers to his client in Zoom deposition faces possible sanction
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A Boston lawyer has been ordered to show cause why he shouldn’t face further sanctions for allegedly taking advantage of a Zoom deposition to secretly whisper answers to his client.
In an Aug. 31 order, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani removed Rosin from the case and referred him to another judge for possible further action. She refused to dismiss the claims of Rosin’s client, however, deeming that “too severe a sanction.”
The alleged misconduct occurred in litigation involving a school portraits company and a former employee who started a competing company. Rosin represented the former employee. The deposition took place in April. Rosin and his client sat in the same conference room and wore masks.
During the fifth hour of the deposition, the opposing counsel overheard Rosin provide an answer to his client and confronted Rosin. Rosin “rebuffed the allegation and the deposition continued,” Talwani said. After the deposition, the opposing counsel reviewed the video recording and identified more than 50 instances where he could hear Rosin “surreptitiously provide” an answer to his client, who repeated the same answer.
The opposing counsel moved for sanctions. Rosin didn’t dispute making the statements, but argued they were the product of frustration with the opposing counsel’s questioning. Talwani was unmoved.
“In coaching Ms. Williams during her deposition,” Talwani wrote, “Rosin undermined the truth-seeking purpose of discovery. Furthermore, Mr. Rosin’s conduct has the effect of sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of litigators and judges as to the effectiveness of remote deposition proceedings, which have become an important tool of the court during the public health crisis.”
Rosin has requested a status conference in hopes of reaching a stipulated resolution. His Oct. 2 request says he doesn’t contest that some type of sanction is appropriate, but he has already faced repercussions.
The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly published a front-page story, he has withdrawn from the case and waived attorney fees, and he has “apologized repeatedly in his office and to the leadership of his firm.”
Rosin “continues to express remorse, regret and embarrassment over the incident and understands his substantial lapse of judgment in the circumstances of the fact pattern of the underlying case,” the request says. He has no prior discipline. “This was an unusual circumstance and one-time departure” for Rosin, according to the request.
U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin agreed to a status conference to be held on Oct. 12.
Rosin didn’t immediately reply to the ABA Journal’s emailed request for comment.
The sanctions case is In re: Jeffrey Rosin. The underlying case is Barksdale School Portraits v. Williams.