Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Burlington Lawyer charged with lying to adversary about witness' attendance at deposition.

In an unusual attorney disciplinary case, the District IIIA Ethics Committee on September 30, 2016 filed a formal complaint against a Mount Laurel attorney who allegedly told his adversary that a witness had not appeared for a deposition when he actually had appeared.

According to the complaint (District IIIA Ethics Committee v. Daniel Silverman, Esq., Docket No. IIIA-2015-022E), Daniel T. Silverman of the firm of Costello & Mains, PC was representing the plaintiff in an employment lawsuit pending in the Camden County Superior Court.  The attorney for the defendant, Laura D. Ruccolo of the Mount Laurel firm of Capehart & Scatchard, allegedly appeared at Silverman's office on March 11, 2014 to attend the scheduled deposition of witness George Fazekas.

According to the complaint, Fazekas was present for the deposition but Silverman told Ruccolo that Fazekas had not arrived and that he didn't know why.  After Ruccolo left his office, Silverman allegedly proceeded to take Fazekas' deposition outside of Ruccolo's presence.

When Ruccolo notified Silverman that she had issued a subpoena to compel Fazekas' deposition, Silverman allegedly told her that Fazekas was now his client and subsequently produced a transcript of Fazekas' March 11, 2014 deposition.  Ruccolo then filed a motion seeking to force Fazekas to appear for a deposition, to bar the deposition that Silverman had conducted without her and to sanction Silverman for his conduct. 

When Judge John A. Fratto heard Ruccolo's motion, Silverman allegedly stated in court that he was not specific with Ruccolo about Fazekas' presence on March 11th "because I was about to interview Mr. Fazekas on my own, not under oath, not under any force to require him to answer my question and I didn't feel it necessary to disclose my attorney work product to her."  He also allegedly admitted to Judge Fratto that he didn't really represent Mr. Fazekas.

Silverman is accused of violation several Rules of Professional Conduct including obstructing another party's access to evidence, making a false statement of material fact to a third person and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. 

At the time of this writing, Silverman had not yet filed an answer to the complaint.  The ethics charges are only allegations--nothing has been proven--and Silverman is entitled to hearing. Silverman has been requested to supply a copy of his answer which, if received, will be posted as an update to this article.

Since 1995, attorney disciplinary hearings have been open to the public.  Anyone who is interested in being notified in advance of any hearings on this matter may complete and send a hearing request form to District IIIA Ethics Committee Secretary Steven Secare via fax to 732-349-9293.