Lawyer reprimanded for feeding deposition answers to vulnerable client who had to be hospitalized afterward
A Massachusetts lawyer who said he whispered deposition answers to a client out of concern for her well-being has received a public reprimand.
Lawyer Jeffrey M. Rosin of Massachusetts was reprimanded in a Nov. 6 order signed by a member of the Board of Bar Overseers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
The Legal Profession Blog noted the case.
Rosin’s client had mental and physical health challenges, and she had to be hospitalized after the deposition, according to an Oct. 10 memorandum of decision by the Board of Bar Overseers. Rosin said he whispered the answers because he wanted to protect his vulnerable client during unnecessarily intrusive questioning by the opposing counsel, who asked about sensitive topics with little relevance to the case.
The deposition was conducted with the help of Zoom. Rosin was in a conference room with his client, and both were wearing masks. The opposing counsel, who was at another location, had objected to the masks, the Board of Bar Overseers said.
The opposing lawyer overheard Rosin provide an answer to his client during the fifth hour of the deposition. Rosin denied it. But when the opposing counsel reviewed the deposition tape, he noticed that Rosin had provided about 50 answers to the client. Most of the answers were “yes,” “no” or “I don’t recall.”
The opposing counsel moved for sanctions in the court case.
Rosin acknowledged coaching his client during a sanctions hearing before a federal judge. He was removed from the case, and he paid attorney fees in connection with the sanctions motion, which amounted to $22,000.
The bar counsel filed the disciplinary complaint against Rosin after learning about the case through media reports.
Rosin and the bar counsel had jointly recommended a reprimand. The Board of Bar Overseers said it would agree to the stipulation because of “the unique facts of the case.”
“Among the factors are the respondent’s immediate and candid acknowledgement of his misconduct, his remorse, his motivation to protect a vulnerable client, and the abusive and uncivil nature of opposing counsel’s questions,” the Board of Bar Overseers said.
“We also recognize that the misconduct was not premeditated but arose in the moment as an emotional (albeit inappropriate) aspiration to protect his client. We emphasize these circumstances to alert the bar that future cases of deposition misconduct, and all forms of discovery abuse, may not be viewed as indulgently as this case,” the Board of Bar Overseers said.
Rosin is managing partner of O’Hagan Meyer’s Boston office. He referred the ABA Journal to his lawyer, Susan E. Cohen of Peabody & Arnold, who emailed a statement.
“The case presented a highly unusual fact pattern,” Cohen said in the statement. “Rosin was caught in the crosshairs of defending his client amidst what the Office of Bar Counsel and the BBO recognized was highly uncivil questioning by opposing counsel, who was engaging in improper commentary on the record.”
As an example, Cohen said the opposing lawyer told Rosin’s client, “Please don’t lie.” She also cited problems with the Zoom technology, which “led to disabling echoes, a need to mute microphones to avoid the echoes unless speaking, and a need to raise objections while coming off mute.”
Cohen noted the findings about Rosin’s motivation to protect his client, his acknowledgement of misconduct, his remorse and the abusive nature of the opposing counsel’s questioning.
“We are pleased the BBO accepted our stipulation,” Cohen said in the statement.