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How and When Not to Write a Brief

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

They say two wrongs don't make a right, and that explains how and when not to write a brief.

Attorney Dennis McCoobery learned that lesson the hard way. First he failed to file a brief, then he drafted a fake one to cover up the mistake.

That's not how you write a brief, and there is a point when it's just too late.

Too Late

In McCoobery's case, he tried the old "extension of time" trick. There's nothing wrong with a stipulation to extend time to file a brief, but McCoobery didn't really have one.

He told his employer that he had an extension of time because he missed the deadline. Then he fabricated a brief, and presented it to a partner as if it were genuine.

The partner discovered the ruse when the matter did not appear on the court calendar. McCoobery resigned from the firm.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the only time McCoobery had written a fake brief. That's how he ended up in a disciplinary proceeding.

Two Times

Missing deadlines is one thing, faking legal briefs is another. It really hits the fan when lawyers lie and clients are affected.

In Matter of McCoobery, fortunately New York's Appellate Division said there was "no irreparable harm to any client." McCoobery also had no prior record of discipline in more than 20 years of law practice.

He admitted his wrongdoing and agreed to the discipline -- two rights to atone for his wrongs. The court suspended him for three months.

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