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In re Emanuel

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 1, 2016

IN RE LENNOX EMANUEL (P 59251)

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PETITION FOR REINSTATEMENT

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is presently before this panel of the Court on the Petition of Lennox Emanuel for the reinstatement of his license to practice law before the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Emanuel was suspended from the practice of law in the Michigan state courts for a period of 30 days, effective January 28, 2016. As a result of the State Bar suspension, pursuant to E.D. Mich. L.R. 83.22, on February 10, 2016, a reciprocal Order of Suspension from the practice of law in the U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan was entered. Emanuel was reinstated to state court practice on March 7, 2016. He thereafter filed the instant Petition for Reinstatement to practice law in the federal courts within the Eastern District of Michigan.

         This three-judge panel was appointed to hear and decide the matter. The Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission was appointed to serve as “of counsel” and the Grievance Administrator was directed to prepare and file an investigative report. A hearing on the matter was thereafter commenced on June 6, 2016 and concluded on September 6, 2016.

         Having had the opportunity to review and consider the hearing transcripts, the Grievance Administrator's reports, and the responses and replies thereto, the panel is now prepared to rule on this matter. This Memorandum Opinion and Order sets forth the panel's decision.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner Emanuel's State Bar suspension arose out of a formal complaint filed by the Grievance Administrator of the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission charging Emanuel with professional misconduct arising from a dispute regarding the allocation of attorney fees between Emanuel and his predecessor counsel after settlement of a client's personal injury claim. An evidentiary hearing on the matter was held before a panel of the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board. The Attorney Discipline Board found that Mr. Emanuel had engaged in the misconduct charged. Specifically, the Board found that Emanuel failed to deposit the settlement funds in an IOLTA or MRPC-compliant non-IOLTA account, in violation of MRPC 1.15(d), and failed to hold the disputed funds separate until the dispute was resolved, in violation of MRPC 1.15(c).[1]

         As a result of the State Bar suspension, pursuant to E.D. Mich. L.R. 83.22, on February 10, 2016, a reciprocal Order of Suspension from the practice of law in the U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan was entered by U.S. District Chief Judge Denise Page Hood.

         The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board issued a Notice of Emanuel's Automatic Reinstatement to state court practice on March 7, 2016. Emanuel thereafter filed the instant Petition for Reinstatement to practice law in the federal courts within the Eastern District of Michigan. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. L.R. 83.22(g)(1), this three-judge panel was appointed to hear the matter, and the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission was appointed to serve as “of counsel.” The Grievance Administrator, thereafter, submitted a Federal Reinstatement Report on March 31, 2016, and a hearing was convened on the matter on June 6, 2016.

         The Grievance Administrator's report raised several significant issues concerning Petitioner's veracity and temperament. In particular, the Grievance Administrator noted a number of misrepresentations that Mr. Emanuel had made, under oath, in a deposition of him taken in connection with a Section 1983 action Emanuel brought on his own behalf, Emanuel v. Turfe, et al., EDMI No. 13-13175. The Section 1983 action arose out of Petitioner's September 2011 arrest on charges of “receiving and admitting a person for an act of prostitution, ” in violation of Detroit City Code §38-9-4(b), and the contemporaneous seizure of his car pursuant to the provisions of Michigan's nuisance-abatement statutes, M.C.L. §§ 600.3801-3841.

         In his deposition in the Section 1983 action, Emanuel unequivocally testified that, other than the 2011 matter, he had never been a criminal defendant in any other case nor had he ever before ticketed for any act involving solicitation of prostitution.[2] However, court records establish that in September 2004, Petitioner was issued a citation and charged with “Offer to Engage the Services of Another for the Act of Prostitution, ” and that charge remained open and pending for a number of years -- during which time Mr. Emanuel made several court appearances -- until it was finally dismissed on the motion of the City Attorney just the year before Emanuel's deposition was taken.[3] Wayne County records further indicate that the 2011 seizure of Petitioner's car was his fourth vehicle seizure for violation of Michigan's nuisance abatement laws forbidding lewdness, assignation, or prostitution. See id., Dkt. # 29-8.

         The Grievance Administrator further reported at the June 6, 2016 hearing that she had then only recently discovered some new information relevant to Mr. Emanuel's petition for reinstatement -- specifically, a series of other non-disclosures and/or misrepresentations by Mr. Emanuel in other courts with regard to, and during the period of, his suspension -- and, therefore, requested additional time within which to investigate and file a supplemental report to address the newly discovered information. After hearing the Grievance Administrator's concerns, the panel agreed that a supplemental report was needed. Therefore, the hearing was adjourned and ordered continued after the Grievance Administrator's filing of the supplemental report and Mr. Emanuel's response thereto.

         The supplemental report, and response and reply memoranda were thereafter filed, and the hearing on Mr. Emanuel's petition was continued on September 6, 2016.

         The Grievance Administrator's Supplemental Reinstatement Report detailed the non-disclosures/misrepresentations which had raised the concerns she had voiced at the June 6th hearing, to-wit,

(1) that Petitioner had failed to notify the clerks of the other U.S. District Courts where he is admitted and has practiced of this Court's suspension;
(2) that Petitioner failed to disclose in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition then-pending U.S. District Court cases for which he and/or his firm had contingent fee agreements and/or were otherwise owed money or had been paid fees;[4] and
(3) that despite having been reprimanded and suspended for the “commingling” of client funds, evidence discovered during the Bankruptcy Trustee's asset investigation disclosed that Petitioner once again commingled client funds with his own funds in his business checking account, which forced the Bankruptcy Trustee to recover from Petitioner's bank the fee portion of the settlement in DeLeon v. Kalamazoo Cty. Road Comm'n, WDMI No. 11-cv-539 (the “DeLeon case”) which properly belonged to the bankruptcy estate.

         The Grievance Administrator's Supplemental Report further brought to light Petitioner's unprofessional litigation conduct in the DeLeon case -- conduct for which he was sanctioned by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in the Western District of Michigan. Judge Maloney found that Petitioner's conduct during his client Robert DeLeon's deposition was wholly unprofessional. In relevant part, Judge Maloney stated in his Opinion and Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Sanctions:

. . . The Court has read the deposition transcript and listened to the audio recording. Generally, the Court finds plaintiffs' counsel conducted himself unprofessionally. Counsel for the Commission, Mr. Dedarian, displayed patience and restraint in the face of an obviously frustrating situation. At the deposition, Mr. Emanuel described Mr. Dedarian's conduct with colorful language choices: twice Mr. Dedarian was “being anal”, twice Mr. Dedarian was “being asinine”, and twice Mr. Dedarian was told that his “questions are a joke.” Mr. Emanuel told Mr. Dedarian to “just be quiet” and to “shut up.” Mr. Emanuel insisted that Mr. Dedarian was “being so unreasonable” and “being ridiculous.” Mr. Emanuel also claimed Mr. Dedarian was “so insulting, ” “so condescending to the witness, ” and “so over the top and overbearing.”
Mr. Emanuel also interfered with Mr. Dedarian's ability to ask questions of Mr. Deleon. Over the first six-and-a-half minutes of the deposition, Mr. Dedarian managed to ask a total of nine questions of Mr. Deleon, with five of those questions occurring in the first forty seconds and a sixth was answered by Mr. Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel interrupted so often and argued with Mr. Dedarian so frequently that Mr. Dedarian was not able to ask any other questions during those initial minutes. At six-and-a-half minutes into the deposition, Mr. Emanuel accused Mr. Dedarian of “badgering my witness.” During the next three minutes and forty-five seconds, Mr. Dedarian only managed to ask one more question of Mr. Deleon because of Mr. Emanuel's continued interruptions. Nevertheless, ten minutes and fifteen second[s] into the deposition, Mr. Emanuel again accused Mr. Dedarian of badgering Mr. Deleon. The transcript is replete with instances where Mr. Emanuel would answer questions posed to Mr. Deleon. At least three times, Mr. Emanuel instructed Mr. Deleon not to answer a question. No less than eight times, Mr. Dedarian commented that Mr. Emanuel was answering the questions or Mr. Dedarian asked Mr. Emanuel to allow Mr. Deleon to answer the question.

[See 8/25/15 Opinion and Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Sanctions, Grievance Administrator's Supp. Report, Ex. 25, pp. 8-9.][5]

         Based upon all of the foregoing, the Grievance Administrator declined to recommend Petitioner for reinstatement to this Court.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The requirements for reinstatement of a suspended or disbarred attorney are set forth in Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 83.22(i)(2), which provides:

The attorney seeking reinstatement must prove by clear and convincing evidence that --
(A) the attorney has complied with the orders of discipline of this court, and all other disciplinary authorities.
(B) the attorney has not practiced in this court during the period of disbarment or suspension and has not practiced law contrary to any other order of discipline.
(C) the attorney has not engaged in any other professional misconduct since disbarment or suspension.
(D) the attorney has the moral qualifications, competency and learning in the law required for admission to practice before this court, and that his or her resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar or to the administration of justice, or subversive of the public interest.

E.D. Mich. L.R. 83.22(i)(2).

         The panel finds that Petitioner Emanuel has failed to ...


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