Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Good Article on Attorney Obligations to Verify “Facts”

One of the most troubling things about this case is Episcopal Church attorney Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s false statements of fact to the courts. For those who may be unfamiliar with the details of my case, Jeff Chiow, a former vestry member of Grace Church, repeatedly made false statements in his pleadings, including false statements of fact. These include:
  • That I had never practiced law.
  • That I never served as a police officer.
  • That I violated the existing court order.
While Jeff and his clients (Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church) may argue that they did not intend to mislead the courts, the first two are statements of fact. As such, it is not sufficient to simply say, “Well, my client told me.” There is an affirmative duty to conduct reasonable independent inquiry. In this regard, even a cursory review of publicly available data would have made clear that these statements were fabrications,.

Apropos the third claim, violating the court’s order, nothing in the law, the facts, or Sugarland’s pleadings themselves supports this conclusion. Intentionally misleading the court in this matter is a serious violation of an attorney’s ethical obligations as an officer of the court.

As one attorney and author states, “zealous advocacy is not synonymous with recklessness or indifference.” Meaning one cannot simply toss assertions out there and hope that something sticks, as Jeff Chiow has done.

Of course, in doing so, Jeff is doing so as the church’s representative, so as an organization, Grace Church is equally culpable.

Read the full article, published in the New York Law Journal, at https://www.stroock.com/siteFiles/Publications/NewYorkLawJournal.pdf.