COMPLAINT AGAINST ATTORNEY STEVEN M. SILPE FOR MATERIAL MISREPRESENTATIONS TO CLIENT

 

1.  Attorney Steven M. Silpe of the firm Cohen Goldstein & Silpe, LLP, (212 315 4400) represented me, Roy Den Hollander, in an annulment/divorce action last year, 2001, in the Supreme Court for New York County, Case No. 3500091/01.

2.  Mr. Silpe violated Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(4) by making at least two material misrepresentations to me on which I relied to my detriment. 

3.  On July 26, 2001, just before the beginning of the Preliminary Conference before Judge Joan Lobis, Mr. Silpe said I had to make a choice concerning the divorce cause of action in my complaint on whether to pursue adultery or cruel and inhuman treatment because I could not pursue both issues of fault at the same time.

4.  The complaint filed by Mr. Silpe on my behalf asked for an annulment or in the alternative a divorce on the grounds of adultery and cruel and inhuman treatment.

5.      I told Mr. Silpe to pursue adultery and to accept a settlement on either annulment or adultery.

 6.  During the conference with Justice Lobis, both parties were asked by Justice Lobis to leave the room while the lawyers and the Justice discussed the case.

7.  After the conference, Mr. Silpe told me there was no settlement and that there would be a trial on annulment and adultery in December 2001.  This turned out to be misrepresentation number one.

8.  Mr. Silpe instructed me to sign the Preliminary Conference Stipulation, which I did.

9.  On arriving home, I reviewed the Stipulation and saw that it indicated the issue of fault had been resolved.  I immediately call Mr. Silpe concerned that there had been a misunderstanding and that he had settled the case without my approval.

10.  Mr. Silpe assured me that my concerns were groundless, that there was no settlement on the issue of fault and that I should continue my investigations in Russia on obtaining evidence for the December trial on the issues of annulment and adultery.  This was misrepresentation two.

11.  In reliance on Mr. Silpe’s above two misrepresentations, I continued my investigations in Russia and preparation for the December trial that I believed would be on the issues of annulment and adultery.

12.  In September, Mr. Silpe filed a motion for a default judgment in the annulment/divorce proceeding even though the opposing side had previously filed an answer.  When I learned that the opposing side had filed an answer two months earlier and that Mr. Silpe had gone ahead with the default motion anyway, I fired Mr. Silpe and obtained new counsel.

13.  At an October Compliance Conference with my new attorney, I learned for the first time from Justice Lobis and opposing counsel that Mr. Silpe had committed me at the July Preliminary Conference to a settlement in which both sides would admit to innocuous cruel and inhuman conduct.

14.  I never gave Mr. Silpe the authority to make such a settlement, but he did so anyway and afterwards lied twice to me by saying he had not made any such settlement on the issue of fault.

15.  My reliance on Mr. Silpe’s intentional misrepresentations ultimately resulted in no trail on the issue of fault and cost me money and time by deceiving me into preparing for a trail that he knew would never happen.

Dated:   September 8, 2002

Roy Den Hollander

212 995 5201

917 687 0652

 

                                                                                                                    ROY DEN HOLLANDER

Attorney at Law

 

545 East 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                                 Tel. & Fax: (212) 995-5201

New York, NY  10009                                                                                                                                                                            Mobile 917 687 0652

                                        

 

November 7, 2002

 

Thomas J. Cahill

Departmental Disciplinary Committee

Supreme Court, Appellate Division

First Judicial Department

61 Broadway

New York, NY 10006

 

Matter of Steven M. Silpe, Esq. Docket No 2002.2501

 

Dear Mr. Cahill:

 

This letter serves as my reply to Steven M. Silpe’s answer in the above captioned disciplinary matter and incorporates the disciplinary complaint against him dated September 8, 2002.

 

Mr. Silpe’s stipulation without my consent to forgo a trail on fault and his misrepresentation about that agreement.

 

Mr. Silpe goes to significant lengths in his answer to mischaracterize the disciplinary allegation against him concerning his misrepresentation on settling the issue of a trail on fault. 

 

The allegation as stated in 10 of my complaint is that Mr. Silpe misrepresented to me that there had been no agreement on the issue of fault.  In an apparent effort of obfuscation, Mr. Silpe’s answer states he made no agreement on the specific grounds that would have supported a divorce or annulment.  My complaint does not accuse Mr. Silpe of entering an agreement on the grounds for the divorce or an annulment and then lying about it.  What Mr. Silpe did without my consent, and then lied about doing, was stipulating at the July 26, 2001 preliminary conference that there would be no trial on the issue of finding fault, whether in the divorce or annulment cause of action. 

 

            Because of Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentations to me, his agreement to eliminate a trail on fault did not become fully evident until a compliance conference on October 4, 2001, before Justice Lobis.  Her Honor said that the attorneys for both parties had agreed at the July 26, 2001 preliminary conference that a trail on the issue of fault would not take place.  She emphasized to my new attorney, Robert Moses (212-949-5928), and me that whether there was to have been a trial on the issue of fault had previously been settled, and in order to set aside that stipulation entered into by Mr. Silpe, I would have to make a motion to the court. 

 

Mr. Moses at the time told me that a motion to set aside the stipulation in order to have a trial on the issue of fault in the divorce and annulment causes of action would cost about $5,000 and likely be denied.  Mr. Silpe in 8 of his answer states that my attorney, Mr. Moses, recently told him that I could have proceeded with a “full blown divorce or annulment trial…if [I] wanted.”  Mr. Moses says he did not make that statement to Mr. Silpe.  Once again Mr. Silpe is making a misrepresentation.  It was my right to a trail on fault that Mr. Silpe stipulated away and then lied about doing so.  As a result, I could not have proceeded to a “full blown divorce or annulment trail…if [I] wanted” unless I made a costly motion and the Justice granted that motion, which appeared unlikely.

 

Mr. Silpe also makes a misrepresentation in 4 of his answer.  Mr. Silpe did not fully explain to me the preliminary conference order prior to my signing and did not say that the order only provided for fault as a non-issue.  Jeffrey Drummond, an attorney who accompanied me to the conference as a friend, witnessed the end of the conference when Mr. Silpe presented me with the order.  Mr. Drummond states that Mr. Silpe did not fully explain the order nor say that fault would not be an issue. 

 

The preliminary conference along with the waiting lasted the entire morning on July 26th and comprised two meetings: first with Justice Lobis’ law secretary and later with the Justice herself.  At both meetings, the defendant and I were required to leave the discussions.  As such, neither the defendant nor I were present when the stipulation was reached.  I was, therefore, completely dependent on Mr. Silpe’s characterization of what occurred in the meetings.  After the final meeting, Mr. Silpe was in such a rush to leave for another appointment that he hurried me to sign the order, and all he said was I could continue my discovery in Russia in preparation for a December trail on adultery and annulment.  Mr. Drummond witnessed this.

 

 

Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentation about my having to choose between a cruelty or adultery cause of action for a divorce.

 

Mr. Silpe also mischaracterized 3 of my complaint.  3 does not state that Mr. Silpe said I could only pursue in my complaint one cause of action for divorce and one cause of action for annulment.  What Mr. Silpe falsely stated at the courthouse on the morning of July 26, 2001, before the preliminary conference started, was that in the divorce cause of action, it was necessary for me to choose between the grounds of adultery and cruelty.  It was this statement at that point in time that constituted a misrepresentation on which I relied.  

 

Mr. Silpe’s excuse that I am a lawyer and therefore was not misled contradicts the reasons behind the often-repeated advice that a lawyer should not represent himself.  I hired Mr. Silpe, trusted him and relied on his advice because he specialized in marital cases, an area of the law in which I had never previously practiced nor studied except for the bar exam.  Unfortunately my reliance was misplaced.

 

I hope the issues in this proceeding are clear that Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentations prejudiced my rights.

 

Thank for your time and if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Roy Den Hollander

 

                                                                                                                     ROY DEN HOLLANDER

Attorney at Law

 

545 East 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                                         Tel. & Fax: (212) 995-5201

New York, NY  10009                                                                                                                                                                                    Mobile 917 687 0652

                                        

                                                                                                            November 9, 2003

Thomas J. Cahill

Departmental Disciplinary Committee

Supreme Court, Appellate Division

First Judicial Department

61 Broadway

New York, NY 10006

 

Matter of Steven M. Silpe, Esq. Docket No 2002.2501

 

Dear Mr. Cahill:

 

            On November 7, 2002, I sent my reply to Mr. Silpe’s answer to the disciplinary complaint I filed against him.  A copy of that rely is attached.

 

            In the reply, I noted that I had witnesses to two material misrepresentations that Mr.Silpe made in his answer to the Committee.

 

1.  Mr. Silpe, in 8 of his answer, said that my attorney, Robert H. Moses (212 972 8911), told him that I could have proceeded with a “full blown divorce or annulment trial…if [I] wanted.”  Mr. Moses says he did not make that statement.  So apparently, Mr. Silpe is making a misrepresentation.  Mr. Silpe had stipulated away my right to a trial on fault and then lied about doing so.  As a result, I could not have proceeded to a “full blown divorce or annulment trail…if [I] wanted” unless I made a costly motion and the Justice granted that motion.  Please see Reply p. 2 1.

 

2.  Mr. Silpe also made a misrepresentation in 4 of his answer.  Contrary to his statement in 4, Mr. Silpe did not fully explain to me the preliminary conference order prior to my signing it and did not say that the order only provided for fault as a non-issue.  Jeffrey N. Drummond (212 352 9861), an attorney, had accompanied me to the conference as a friend and witnessed when Mr. Silpe presented me with the order for signing.  Mr. Drummond confirms my statement that Mr. Silpe did not fully explain the order nor say that fault would not be an issue.

 

            Since filing my reply on November 7, 2002, to my knowledge, neither of the above witnesses has been contacted by the Committee to confirm Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentations to this Committee.

           

                                                                                                            Sincerely,

 

                                                                                                            Roy Den Hollander

 

ROY DEN HOLLANDER

Attorney at Law

545 East 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                                     Tel. & Fax: (212) 995-5201

New York, NY  10009                                                                                                                                                                                Mobile 917 687 0652

                                                                                                     rdhhh@yahoo.com

 

 

                                                                                                            March 24, 2004

 

 

Thomas J. Cahill

Departmental Disciplinary Committee

Supreme Court, Appellate Division

First Judicial Department

61 Broadway

New York, NY 10006

 

 

Matter of Steven M. Silpe, Esq. Docket No 2002.2501

 

Dear Mr. Cahill:

 

            In response to your summary dismissal of my complaint against Mr. Silpe in which you cavalierly ignored material evidence—I request a review.  However, given the biased nature of your investigation by failing to interview two corroborating witnesses to Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentations, the review will most likely reach the same conclusion.  A conclusion that is unsupported in light of all the evidence but supported by just that evidence hand picked to reach the conclusion desired.  I, therefore, have two questions:

 

  1. When the review upholds your decision, is there recourse to another tribunal,

 perhaps the Supreme Court?

 

  1. Is there an inspector general or some other agency that looks into the Committee’s

 failure to do its duty, incompetence or worst?

 

You state in your letter of March 18, 2003 at 2 that my signing of the stipulation is “self-evident” that I had “knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the court conference.”  What kind of a standard of proof is “self-evident?”  Is it preponderance, beyond a reasonable doubt, or, more likely, whatever an accused attorney says.  Furthermore, since when does caveat emptor from the 19th century apply in the 21st to attorney-client relationships?  I thought the attorney-client relationship was deemed so important by the law and the Committee that attorneys were held to a standard higher than the sharp practices of yesteryear where the person in the know used that information to deceive others.

 

Mr. Silpe was my attorney to whom I paid lots of money.  He held himself out as competent in domestic relations law of which I never even had a course.  I trusted and relied on him as clients are encouraged to do and for which the disciplinary and ethics rules were enacted so that such trust and reliance would only rarely be misplaced.  Perhaps the rules exist to give clients a false sense of security that their attorney will act forthrightly.

 

You also state in 2 that “there is insufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Silpe made intentional misrepresentations…. there is no supportive or corroborative evidence to conclude that Mr. Silpe made intentional misrepresentations on any other relevant issues, or that he intentionally withheld information ….”   Basically you are calling me a liar, since my statements are evidence that Mr. Silpe made misrepresentations.  You’re also telling any client who complains against a lawyer that the client’s words are useless—they will not be believed.  Okay, let’s assume my statements mean zero and all clients are liars when they complain against august attorneys.  What about the two corroborating witnesses to misrepresentations by Mr. Silpe?  The two witnesses to whom you and your Committee never talked—Jeffrey Drummond and Robert Mosses.    

 

As I stated in my November 7, 2002 reply to Mr. Silpe’s answer and again in my November 9, 2003 inquiry into the status of this case:

 

1.  Mr. Silpe, in 8 of his answer, said that my attorney, Robert H. Moses (212 972 8911), told Mr. Silpe that I could have proceeded with a “full blown divorce or annulment trial…if [I] wanted.”  Mr. Moses says he did not make that statement.

 

2.  Mr. Silpe also made a misrepresentation in 4 of his answer.  Contrary to his statement in 4, Mr. Silpe did not fully explain to me the preliminary conference order prior to my signing it and did not say that the order eliminate fault as a trial issue.  Jeffrey N. Drummond (212 352 9861), an attorney, had accompanied me to the conference and witnessed what Mr. Silpe said when he presented me with the order for signing.  Mr. Drummond confirms that Mr. Silpe did not fully explain the order nor say that fault would not be an issue.

 

Mr. Drummond will also confirm that when Mr. Silpe presented me with the stipulation, he was rushing me to sign.  Given the emotional nature of the situation, my trust in my attorney (something that will never happen again) and my reliance on Mr. Silpe, I signed the order under circumstances that current consumer law would classify as high-pressure salesmanship.  As soon as I had left that emotionally charged situation and read the order, I telephoned Mr. Silpe as to its meaning, and he continued his lie that there was no settlement and I would have a trial in December on the issues of fault—annulment and adultery.  Actually, the previous sentence written here is completely useless, since you have already made it clear that I am considered a liar in this proceeding.  But how do you answer my corroborating witnesses—are they liars too?  No, you just ignore their evidence.

 

            Finally, Mr. Silpe’s misrepresentations in s 4 & 8 of his answer amount to hiding the truth from the Committee.  But, I assume that is not considered professional misconduct.

           

            Thank you for your time and I look forward to how you will twist this letter into charges against me—it’s the American way these days; truth must be punished.

 

 

                                                                                                            Sincerely,

 

 

                                                                                                            Roy Den Hollander