A Manhattan lawyer has been suspended for two years for withdrawing from an escrow account money he said his deceased client pledged to him as payment for a decade of free legal work.

In issuing its sanction against Richard A. Zalk, the Appellate Division, 1st Department, determined that the lawyer was precluded from relying on his own testimony about the supposed fee agreement by the Dead Man’s Statute, which bars an interested party from testifying about verbal promises made by a dead or incapacitated person. But the court did say his account, which it found credible, could be used to mitigate his penalty.

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