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Morristown attorney will likely avoid prison for misuse of client funds August 12, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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Paul Hirsh,  a former Morristown-based attorney (now out of Washington, D.C.)  pleaded guilty today to forgery and misapplying $47,500 in client-settlement funds that were supposed to be deposited in trust accounts.  The State had alleged that he improperly deposited funds from settlements involving three clients into his own personal account to help run his failing  law office.

Hirsh’s biggest problem with this case is that he forged settlement checks involving two clients.   While only a fourth degree crime, the forgery adds a criminal element to the entire case which is otherwise just an attorney ethics issue.  Its one thing to screw up a trust account, its another to forge checks.  You can’t sell your defense theory to the jury with no real defense to the forgery count. 

However, I see no reason to take this plea deal.  Why not take this case to trial?  He can’t do much worse than the probation with 364 anyway even if he was convicted.  He was only facing third and fourth degree crimes.  Although he had a great defense attorney in John Whipple so I will assume that this was well thought out.

Click here for the story.

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