Maryland disbarred an attorney who fraudulently drafted a subpoena for his cousin that wrongly asserted it had been witnessed by a New York State judge.
The ruling came several months after New York suspended the attorney, Jon A. Lefkowitz, for two years for the crime.
The Maryland appeals court said it decided to impose a harsher sanction than New York because the facts of the case and state precedent warrant it.
Lefkowitz’s actions were “intentionally dishonest and deceitful” in violation of Maryland professional conduct rules, including engaging in conduct involving fraud, the court said.
Lefkowitz drafted the subpoena for his cousin, who was fighting extradition to New York from Canada for alleged mortgage fraud. The subpoena was meant for a witness in the case who had provided grand jury testimony against the cousin.
But Lefkowitz ignored the instructions for serving a subpoena, which “clearly” set forth the steps for completing it and required a judge to witness and sign it before it’s served, neither of which happened, the court said.
By doing so, he was complicit in helping his cousin evade extradition, which New York found warranted suspension.
But Maryland took a harsher stance.
Lefkowitz “aided in the commission of criminal felony and attempted to subvert the administration of justice in a pending case,” the court said.
His dishonest conduct is evidenced by his guilty plea and agreement in New York and the fact that he hasn’t shown any appreciation for the gravity of his conduct or expressed remorse for his actions, it said.
Lefkowitz’s claims that his actions weren’t self-serving or for financial gain and that there were no consequences are unconvincing to mitigate his conduct, the court said.
Furthermore, he was sanctioned in 2008 and fined for failing to appear in court on behalf of a client, and he has been a practicing law for over 20 years, “giving him substantial experience in the practice of law, which aggravate his present offense,” it said.
Lefkowitz’s conduct “flies in the face of the basic tenet of upholding the integrity of our justice system,” the court said, ordering disbarment.
The case is Atty. Griev. Comm’n of Md. v. Lefkowitz, Md., No. Misc. Docket AG No. 29September Term2018, 3/29/19.