The Appellate Division, First Department, yesterday suspended attorney Stephen C. Jackson pending the outcome of a disciplinary committee’s investigation into a client’s claim that Jackson failed to remit a payment of about $53,000 secured by the attorney. Jackson, a Manhattan solo who has had several high-profile clients, was suspended based on “uncontested evidence” of professional misconduct that “immediately threatens the public safety.” Presiding Justice Luis Gonzalez (See Profile) and Justices Angela Mazzarelli (See Profile), Richard Andrias (See Profile), Helen Freedman (See Profile) and Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) decided Matter of Jackson, 3747.
The disciplinary committee began investigating Jackson in 2009 after a client complained that he paid Jackson a $5,000 retainer but never received the approximately $53,000 refund Jackson received from $107,000 that was seized from the client in 2008 by the U.S. Customs Department. Jackson told the committee he placed the money in an escrow account and tried to reimburse the client, but stopped payment on a check when he realized he had not taken his legal fees. Upon further investigation, the committee said it discovered some of the escrow money was missing. The panel said there is “substantial overlap” between the committee’s investigation and a probe by the Manhattan district attorney.
Jackson was charged last year in a 17-count indictment with grand larceny, forgery and perjury for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from client settlement funds and forging a check to obtain more than $150,000 from a bank (NYLJ, June 22, 2012). Those charges are pending.
Jackson’s attorney, Michael Hardy, said he favored Jackson being able to continue practicing law pending completion of the committee’s investigation. “I don’t think he represents a threat to the public,” Hardy said. “I believe he should have been entitled to completion of the investigation before any final action would be taken by the committee.”