Forgery

Courtney Love is many things to many people. Succubus, Golden Globe-nominated actress, rockstar in her own right, subject of several awesome post-grunge rock songs, and now serial defendant.

As we previously mentioned in Non-Sequiturs, Love is being sued by litany of her former associates. Her former legal consigliere says he was not properly paid, and now her former personal assistant says Love asked her to act illegally and hire a hacker.

What, what? Say it ain’t so, C. Love!

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Timothy Block Timothy M Block Robins Kaplan Miller Ciresi Abovethelaw Above the Law.jpgInitiative. Creativity. Zealous advocacy on behalf of the client.
All qualities demonstrated by Robins Kaplan partner Timothy Block, who is ATL’s Lawyer of the Day.
Update: The story is getting attention not just in the legal world, but in the tech world, too.
Best Buy Attorney Falsified E-Mails [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Firm’s Mea Culpa Adds Twist to Class Action Against Best Buy [The Recorder]
Timothy M. Block bio [Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi via Google Cache]
Best Buy lawyer admits to altering documents in racketeering case [Engadget]

forgery Faegre Benson signature forge judge Above the Law blog.JPGThe typical ATL “Lawyer of the Day” is a solo practitioner or small-firm lawyer. But today’s lawyer of the day hails from a large law firm, one that you’ve probably heard of — and one that gets the definite-article treatment in the New York Times wedding pages.
Meet Mark Fischer, from the Denver office of Faegre & Benson, the well-known Minneapolis law firm. Here’s what Fischer did to earn a place in the pages of ATL. From the Rocky Mountain News:

A prominent Denver law firm is being sued after one of its attorneys forged a federal judge’s signature on a legal document.

The forgery allowed one of Faegre & Benson’s clients to obtain a loan and pay the firm for work, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S District Court in Colorado.

The attorney, Mark W. Fischer, admitted in a two-page letter that on April 25, 2005, that he “fabricated a false document which purported to be an order” signed by Judge Philip Figa to release a lien against his client’s property.

Fischer was suspended by the state supreme court on April 11. His ultimate fate will be decided at an upcoming disciplinary hearing.
One of the tipsters who brought this to our attention wrote: “I can’t believe it backfired; it seems like such a good idea to forged a federal judge’s signature. I’m guessing the firm’s collections department was really hounding that attorney about those unpaid fees.”
So what did the powers-that-be at Faegre & Benson think of all this?

“What Mr. Fischer described in his letter is inconsistent with the way Faegre & Benson has practiced law for over 100 years,” [partner Dave] Stark said.

Thanks for the clarification, Dave. We’re glad to jear that forging federal judges’ signatures isn’t usual policy or practice at Faegre & Benson.
Interestingly enough, even though the firm is now being sued by the client for failure to “supervise” Fischer, it turns out that he was a PARTNER at the firm — not some wet-behind-the-ears associate. From his Martindale-Hubbell bio:

Mark W. Fischer (Partner) born Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1956; admitted to bar, 1991, Colorado. Education: Grinnell College (B.A. 1978); University of Colorado (J.D. 1991). Practice Areas: Commercial Litigation; Intellectual Property Litigation.

It’s nice to see some innovative thinking from a lawyer who has been practicing for over 15 years. Good work, Mr. Fischer!
Law firm sued over forgery by attorney [Rocky Mountain News]
Faegre & Benson sued over forged document [Minnesota Lawyer Blog]


Sometimes smart lawyers do dumb things:

An appeals court in Brooklyn has disbarred an attorney who was convicted of criminal contempt for forging the signature of a Family Court judge during a post-divorce proceeding against her ex-husband.

A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department, said that it could not offer a lesser sentence for the attorney, Mary K. Henning, despite her otherwise unblemished record….

Mary Henning, a former litigator at Kaplan & Winkler in White Plains, was not accused of forging the signature in her capacity as an attorney. She and her former husband, Robert A. Ritz, were divorced in 1999. In 2000, they agreed to spend equal time with their children, and Ritz signed a stipulation to that effect.

Ritz said that Judge Joan O. Cooney, the supervising judge of the family courts in the 9th Judicial District, had not signed the stipulation when it was given to him. But Henning later gave the document to school authorities as proof of residence, so she could collect a $16,750 refund for out-of-district tuition. The document had what looked like a “J” on Judge Cooney’s signature line.

We’d be interested in seeing the allegedly forged document. Getting disbarred for one teensy letter — isn’t that a bit harsh? Could the “J” have been a random stray mark? Or maybe a photocopying error? As any paralegal can tell you, if you don’t wipe the glass clean before copying, you will get smudges.
C’mon, Mary, think outside the box!
Panel Disbars Attorney For Forging Judge’s Name [New York Law Journal]