On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, the Hartford Courant reported that suspended New Haven attorney Rick Silverstein is deciding whether to appeal a one-year suspension of his law license. Silverstein, who has over 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, received the suspension in December based on a history of disciplinary issues dating back to 2007.
The suspension stemmed from a $250 bounced check in 2007, which resulted in a six-month suspension at the time. During a 2021 grievance committee hearing about the bounced check incident, Silverstein admitted to not responding to overdraft notices or other requests, and said he was “sorry and embarrassed.” In his decision to suspend Silverstein for one year, Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer criticized Silverstein’s “abhorrent disciplinary history” and noted multiple past reprimands dating back to 2000.
Silverstein’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, believes the one-year suspension was too harsh and is considering an appeal. However, Pattis said that Silverstein’s suspension would have already ended by the time an appeal could be fully heard. Pattis criticized Judge Fischer’s decision, calling it an “intemperate” reaction that would have “profound consequences” for the Bar. Pattis argued that reaching back decades into an attorney’s history, especially one who had overcome substance abuse issues, was “shocking and unconscionable.”
Pattis said he unsuccessfully appealed the suspension to the Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court. With no further appeal options in state courts, Silverstein is currently barred from practicing law. Pattis believes the suspension will negatively impact Silverstein’s hundreds of past and potential clients who relied on his legal services.
Pattis called Silverstein “a great lawyer” who is a “go-to” attorney for criminal defense in Connecticut. While acknowledging Silverstein made mistakes in the past, Pattis argued the one-year suspension was an excessive punishment that weakens the bar. He said any further appeal would primarily aim to establish limits on disciplinary actions judges can impose against lawyers. Currently, Silverstein and Pattis are weighing whether pursuing additional appeals is worthwhile given the suspension period will soon end.
Source: Hartford Courant