Lawyer Facing Suspension Defends Derogatory Remarks About Judge

, New Jersey Law Journal

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Clifford VanSyoc
Clifford VanSyoc

Van Syoc challenged aspects of the transcript's accuracy and defended his conduct, saying O'Connor made one of his clients cry.

The District IV Ethics Committee (DEC) recommended a censure.

The Disciplinary Review Board on Oct. 16 found Van Syoc violated Rules of Professional Conduct 3.2, failing to treat those in the legal system with courtesy; 8.4(d), engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and 8.2(a), making knowingly false or reckless statements about a judge's qualifications.

The DRB chided Van Syoc for, among other things, "unsubstantiated attacks" on Perskie, "[w]ithout any apparent basis, other than his own opinion." It called for a six-month suspension, though two members voted for censure and one for a three-month suspension.

In his petition, Van Syoc claims both the DEC and DRB erred by admitting and relying on the deposition transcript when an audio recording should have been provided.

Stenographer Pearl Caramazza, he charges, gave conflicting testimony about the recording and refused to provide him with a copy, though she gave one to O'Connor, he says.

Caramazza testified that, as was her normal practice, she audiotaped the deposition but then destroyed the recording after composing the transcript. She also buttressed O'Connor's claims that he behaved civilly and properly at the deposition.

But Van Syoc says the audio would have proved that O'Connor's tone was grounds for unilateral cessation of the deposition, and Caramazza's destruction of the recording amounts to spoliation, entitling Van Syoc to dismissal of the complaint.

As for Perskie, his failure to admit a voice recording or to recuse in the employment suit—based on his relationship with lawyers with whom he had once practiced at Fox Rothschild—made the remarks "more than merely Petitioner's 'own opinion'" and "amply supported a perception of judicial bias," Van Syoc claims.

Van Syoc says his continued criticism of Perskie during ethics hearings was akin to a "truth" defense "based on the record of judicial conduct complained of here and the disturbing parallels with the conduct that results in this Court's discipline of Judge Perskie." That refers to Perskie's 2011 censure for failing to disqualify himself from a case involving a party with whom he had a business relationship.

What's being said

  • Leno Ware

    The transcriber destroyed the audio tape which is the key to the situation. Why would she destroy the tape? Transcriber are known for putting whatever they want in the transcript. I have seen tainted transcripts on the federal level. The committee should not rely on her transcript; only on the audio tape. This case should be dismissed; the transcriber and the attorney should be bought up on fraud charges.
    Cannot produce concrete evidence no charges should stand.

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