Legal Ethics

Lawyer suspended for lying about case filings, creating fake brief to back up his account

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A New York appeals court has suspended a real estate lawyer for three months for lying to a partner after failing to follow his instructions regarding the filing of two appellate briefs.

New York’s Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, suspended Dennis McCoobery in a Feb. 5 opinion, report the New York Law Journal, Bloomberg News and the Legal Profession Blog. McCoobery is a former associate with Stempel Bennett Claman & Hochberg.

To back up his lies, McCoobery drafted a fake appellate brief and constructed a fake chain of emails, the appeals court said.

McCoobery’s conduct had occurred while dealing with his father’s terminal illness and death, the appeals court noted. He had no prior record of discipline in more than 20 years of practicing law, and no clients were harmed. McCoobery agreed to the discipline and stipulated to the facts.

In one matter, the partner asked McCoobery to draft an appellate opposition brief. McCoobery wrote and filed the brief without giving it to the partner for review. When the partner asked to see a draft in March 2017, McCoobery gave him the brief and falsely represented it as a draft. The partner made revisions, but later discovered what McCoobery had done.

In the other matter, the partner had instructed McCoobery to send the partner’s appellate brief and the record on appeal to the firm’s printing vendor, and to instruct the vendor to serve and file the documents. McCoobery sent the documents to the vendor, but didn’t ask for service and filing. He falsely told the partner, however, that he had properly instructed the vendor.

To cover up his error, McCoobery falsely told the partner in December 2016 that he and opposing counsel had stipulated to an extension for filing the brief. To further conceal his misrepresentations, McCoobery fabricated an opposition brief that he provided to the partner as though it were genuine, and he constructed fake emails to make it appear he had received the brief from opposing counsel. The partner then drafted a reply brief.

McCoobery admitted his lies after the partner noticed the appeal had not been calendared for the June 2017 term. McCoobery resigned from the firm.

McCoobery did not respond to requests for comment by the New York Law Journal.

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