Matter of Haar

Matter of Haar (2023 NY Slip Op 00365) Matter of Haar 2023 NY Slip Op 00365 Decided on January 26, 2023 Appellate Division, Third Department Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431. This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports. Decided and Entered:January 26, 2023 PM-08-23 [*1]In the Matter of Paul Saul Haar, an Attorney. (Attorney Registration No. 2340149.) Calendar Date:October 24, 2022 Before:Egan Jr., J.P., Clark, Ceresia, Fisher and McShan, JJ. Monica A. Duffy, Attorney Grievance Committee for the Third Judicial Department, Albany (Michael K. Creaser of counsel), for Attorney Grievance Committee for the Third Judicial Department. Scalise & Hamilton, P.C., Scarsdale (Deborah A. Scalise of counsel), for respondent. Per Curiam. Respondent was admitted to practice by this Court in 1990 following his admission in the District of Columbia in 1983 and in Maryland in 1989. In March 2022, the Attorney Grievance Committee for the Third Judicial Department (hereinafter AGC) was advised by respondent's counsel that he had been suspended in February 2022 for a seven-month term by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for using his clients' advanced payment of flat fees as payment to him upon receipt, in violation of a unique rule in that jurisdiction prohibiting such a practice (see District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.15 [e]), but which does not constitute misconduct in this state. However, the Court of Appeals' order also revealed respondent's previously undisclosed disciplinary history in that jurisdiction, including a 30-day suspension from practice in 1997 due to sustained findings that he had negligently misappropriated client funds during a fee dispute with a client (see In re Haar, 698 A2d 412, 425 [DC Ct of Appeals 1997]). AGC therefore now seeks to impose discipline upon respondent in New York as consequence of his negligent misappropriation in 1997 (see Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters [22 NYCRR] § 1240.13; Rules of App Div, 3d Dept [22 NYCRR] § 806.13). AGC's motion was originally marked returnable on October 10, 2022, but the return date has been adjourned to October 24, 2022 upon the request of respondent. Respondent submitted papers in response to the motion dated October 20, 2022. AGC avers that disciplining respondent pursuant to Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.13 and Rules of Appellate Division, Third Department (22 NYCRR) § 806.13 is appropriate, as his misconduct in the District of Columbia, as established by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, also constitutes misconduct in this state. The rule at issue — former District of Columbia Disciplinary Rule 9-103 (A) (2) — prohibited a lawyer from drawing on funds in his or her possession if the client disputed the fee. This provision is substantially similar to former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102 (B) (4) (22 NYCRR 1200.46 [B] [4]), which provision was applicable at the time of respondent's misconduct in the District of Columbia, and which rule is identical to the current Rules …

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