On December 6, 2023, the New Haven Independent reported that criminal defense attorney Norm Pattis had filed an appeal seeking to reverse a Connecticut judge’s decision to suspend fellow defense lawyer Rick Silverstein’s law license for one year.

According to the article, New Haven District Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer suspended Silverstein’s ability to practice law on November 28th due to a $250 check from one of Silverstein’s client’s trust accounts bouncing in 2019. Silverstein failed to adequately explain what happened and did not comply with a mandatory audit ordered by the state grievance committee regarding his financial records.

Silverstein admitted to violating Connecticut’s Rules of Professional Conduct pertaining to maintaining proper trust account records and responding to bank overdraft notices. However, in his decision, Judge Fischer claimed Silverstein should have been more cooperative with the committee given his prior disciplinary issues, which included five previous reprimands, probation-like conditions imposed in a past case, and a suspended six-month suspension.

Pattis strongly criticized Judge Fischer’s written description of Silverstein as having an “abhorrent disciplinary track record” and suggestion that most lawyers in Silverstein’s position would “crawl on their hands and knees” before regulators. Pattis argued this language demonstrated bias against Silverstein. He also believed a one-year suspension was a disproportionately harsh punishment for the violations at hand, which he said did not harm any clients.

In his appeal, Pattis requested an interim stay of Silverstein’s suspension until a higher court could review the case. On December 6th, the appellate court granted this stay, delaying the suspension’s start until December 15th and allowing for further review. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which had supported the one-year suspension, filed a response asserting Silverstein was unlikely to succeed in overturning the penalty given his admissions of wrongdoing.

The article provided insight and commentary on this ongoing legal disciplinary matter impacting two well-known New Haven criminal defense attorneys. The appeal seeks a fuller examination of whether Silverstein’s actions truly warrant a lengthy suspension from practicing law.

 

Source: New Haven Independent