A lawyer who was suspended in March for his handling of an employee’s estate is now facing ethics charges for accusing two judges of being biased against him.
In a three count presentment, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is seeking disciplinary actions against Zbigniew Rozbicki for making “a slew of allegations of judicial misconduct, partiality and bias” against Superior Court judges John Danaher III and Vincent Roche.
The ethics case for rules violations against Rozbicki, which stems from a handful of comments he made in court in 2008, is the latest in a history of discipline against him. Records show his license was first suspended for three months in 1992 and he was reprimanded in 2006. In March, Rozbicki was suspended again, this time for two years for letting his personal involvement in the probate case of his former paralegal “override the best interest of his client,” as Judge Trial Referee Thomas Upson put it.
The client representation problem that got the better of Rozbicki started in 2007, after the lawyer’s long-time paralegal Kathleen Gisselbrecht died. Rozbicki said in court documents that he was surprised to learn he was the executor of Gisselbrecht’s will.
A contentious court fight soon erupted between Gisselbrecht’s surviving relatives and Rozbicki over his handling of the estate.
The most significant of those issues involved Rozbicki’s decision to repay himself a $20,000 loan he had made to Gisselbrecht, along with more than $40,000 in legal fees.Gisselbrecht’s family filed a lawsuit to recover the money.
Gisselbrecht’s brother, Edward Gisselbrecht, subsequently removed Rozbicki as executor of the will, which brought a counter-lawsuit from Rozbicki. In that lawsuit, Rozbicki sought a stay in the civil suit over the $60,000. When Roche refused to grant the stay or let Rozbicki reargue for it, Rozbicki called for the judge’s disqualification.
In the motion to have Roche step down, Rozbicki argued that the judge “failed to adhere to the basic principles of judicial impartiality, and showed partiality and bias.”
Rozbicki, who made similar claims against Danaher, has represented himself in prior disciplinary matters, and he has denied any wrongdoing in his handling of the Gisselbrecht estate. He did not return a call seeking comment.
Suzanne Sutton, the assistant disciplinary counsel who filed the grievance case for the state in Superior Court in Litchfield, said the new allegations are even more serious than the charges for which Rozbicki is now suspended from practice.
“I would say these are very serious,” she said.
Sutton said the complaint involving attorney misconduct toward the court could result in Rozbicki getting a longer suspension. While the terms of his current suspension would allow Rozbicki to be reinstated without applying for his license again, the new charges could require him to reapply with the state disciplinary counsel before being reinstated.
Sutton said that while the allegations must be proven independently of the original grievance complaint, some of the facts in the first case will once again be relevant.
“It appears that almost every time a decision did not go Mr. Rozbicki’s way, he would file some sort of pleading calling into question the integrity of the court,” Sutton said. “We believe the unsupported allegations made against the court resulted in violations of several rules of professional conduct.”