For the first time in 20 years, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel has had to take drastic measures to ensure a disbarred attorney would finally give up the practice of law.
After five-years worth of suspensions and an eventual disbarment in August 2008, Allen Feingold was still refusing to comply with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order as he continued to practice law and failed to notify clients of his disbarment, according to orders in the case.
In the past few months, the ODC has worked to get a conservator to handle the case to ensure clients are properly being notified and represented and has secured an injunction from Philadelphia Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe prohibiting Feingold from engaging in the unlawful practice of law or stepping foot in any court-like setting or even his office.
As part of her Sept. 2 order, Dembe ordered Feingold to hand over the keys to his offices at 1515 Market St. in Philadelphia and directed the ODC to change the locks. In a Sept. 10 order, Dembe appointed former state Supreme Court Justice Russell M. Nigro as conservator to handle the proper notification and transition of Feingold's current and former clients.
"Allen Feingold is prohibited from entering any courtroom, tribunal, arbitration hearing, deposition and/or to function in any capacity in a legal proceeding other than as a witness, party or spectator," Dembe said in the Sept. 2 order. "Allen Feingold is prohibited from using any kind of legal stationery or cards that identify him as a lawyer or from using the legal stationery of another attorney."
According to Dembe's second order, Feingold was suspended from the practice of law for three years in March 2006 and a consecutive order adding another two-year suspension was issued in August 2006. After failing to comply with those orders, Feingold was eventually disbarred in August 2008.
Since that time, according to the order, Feingold has failed to notify certain clients of the disbarment and continued to practice law as recently as June 2009. There are an unknown number of client files in Feingold's office and the building's management, according to the order, is concerned about fire safety because of the way the papers are stored. Feingold is allowed in his office, only when accompanied by Nigro, to retrieve utility bills in order to pay them, according to the order.
Calls to Feingold's office, the only number available for him, were not returned by press time.
William Pietragallo II, chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, said the case, in terms of the injunction, was "highly unique, highly unusual and highly necessary."
Pietragallo said this is the first time he has ever seen a conservator appointed to handle a case where the attorney hasn't died or isn't in some other way incapacitated. He said he was very pleased with the fact that someone of Nigro's background was able to serve in this position.
"I think we were fortunate to have someone with the depth of his experience willing to serve," Pietragallo said. "I was concerned that he would not be because of the burdens of this position."
According to the complaint against Feingold by the ODC seeking an injunction, the ODC alleged Feingold continued to perform law-related activities, maintain contact with current and former clients and appear on behalf of clients in hearings and other proceedings.
Under the rules of professional conduct, a "formerly admitted attorney" is not allowed to perform law-related activities from an office that isn't staffed with a full-time supervising attorney, according to the ODC's motion for a conservator.
Feingold also created letterhead in the name of attorney Jeffry Stephen Pearson, another attorney who apparently handled some of Feingold's files once Feingold was suspended. Feingold would use that letterhead, unbeknown to Pearson, to file pleadings and legal correspondence to lawyers, clients and judges, according to the complaint. Once Pearson learned of this, he changed his password for electronic filings with the court, but Feingold learned of the new password and continued making filings under Pearson's name, the ODC alleged in the complaint.
Pearson himself is temporarily suspended from practicing law as of May 28, 2009, according to the ODC's Web site, for failure to comply with a subpoena. Feingold had initially transferred an unknown number of files to his partner, Dora Garcia, but she was later suspended for 15 months in October 2007 for assisting Feingold in unlawfully practicing law, according to the opinion in her case. Garcia then transferred an unknown number of files to Pearson, according to a Sept. 2 order by Dembe.
The ODC asserted in court papers in 2007 that Feingold, despite having been suspended in 2006, had in the intervening months remained involved in the professional affairs of a law practice he and an associate have run under the name "Feingold Feingold & Garcia."
Feingold's March 2006 suspension involved findings of professional misconduct in three separate matters he had handled.
Feingold's August 2006 suspension was the result of a summer 2004 incident during which Feingold allegedly choked a 74-year-old judge pro tempore at the Philadelphia Dispute Resolution Center because he was unhappy with the judge's arbitration ruling in a case he had been handling, according to the board's report in that case.
In that report, the board labeled Feingold "a danger to the public and the judicial system because of his short temper and unreasonable, erratic behavior."
According to that report, Feingold admitted to attempting to strike the judge pro tem during the altercation.
"I figured hell, if I'm going to lose my license, at least let me get my one punch in," Feingold testified during the ensuing disciplinary proceedings, according to the board's report.
Feingold earned the ire of at least one judge in 2007 when Feingold was acting pro se in a case he brought against a law firm that represented Whole Foods Market when Feingold sued the food chain after he got sick from their food.
In Feingold v. Kent & McBride, Judge Gary S. Glazer let his footnotes do the scolding.
"It is crystal clear to this court that Mr. Feingold is continuing the same conduct which led to the original disciplinary action against him," Glazer wrote in one subtext comment. "The continual filing of frivolous, baseless and harassing lawsuits, which have no purpose other than to extort a settlement, is inimical to the very purpose of the legal profession.
"Mr. Feingold's act is well beyond its expiration date -- it has become a burdensome waste of time. The appropriate authorities will be advised of Mr. Feingold's activities in this case."
The ODC was represented in the matter by Carmen Nasuti and Amelia Kittredge. Feingold represented himself.