May 19th, 2011
Supreme Court Justice Daniel Palmari recently disqualified Jeffrey S. Stephens from representing Edward Scannapieco, pursuant to a New York ethics rule that bars an attorney from working as an advocate in a case when his presence may have a “significant issue effect.”
Justice Palmari found that attorney Stephens of Greenwich, Connecticut, had “testified because he had submitted an affirmation to the court indicating the facts related to the execution of an undisclosed pre-nuptial agreement.” The pre-nuptial agreement is being contested by Machiell Scannapieco.
Justice Palmari stated his decision, “counsel here was a major participant in the event, as such his testimony is relevant to significant factual issues.” Mr. & Mrs. Scannapieco were married December 30, 1989. Mrs. Scannapieco filed for divorce in 2010.
Mr. Scannapieco brought a proceeding to deny his wife spousal maintenance. He indicated in his motion that there was a November, 1989 pre-nuptial agreement that limited Mrs. Scannapieco’s right to obtain spousal maintenance. He initially was unable to locate the document, but he found it shortly prior to bringing the application to the court.
Attorney Stephens stated in his court papers, “he prepared the agreement, negotiated the changes with an unidentified attorney representing the plaintiff-wife and he only recently found it in storage.”
Justice Palmari indicated in his decision that the application of the pre-nuptial agreement will have to wait until the discovery process in the divorce proceeding is concluded. But since attorney Stephens may be a witness in this proceeding, he cannot represent one of the litigants. Justice Palmari stated, in referring to an earlier Nassau County decision, “that the preventing of an attorney from representing a litigant in a case where the lawyer may be a witness prevents any unfairness from arising from the lawyer’s opportunity to present his case twice.”
Justice Palmari indicated in his decision that since the case was in the initial stages, the elimination of Mr. Stephens from representing Mr. Scannapieco will not create a “substantial hardship.”
The law office of Elliot Schlissel has been litigating fathers’ rights matters for more than thirty years. We have extensive experience in representing fathers in divorce proceedings, regarding orders of protection, concerning issues involving child custody, child visitation, child support and spousal maintenance (alimony). We have litigated child abuse and child neglect proceedings on behalf of fathers involving Child Protective Services and Association for Child Services. We have brought proceedings requesting the reduction of child support for fathers. We can assist fathers concerning no-fault divorce issues, equitable distribution of assets, family relocation problems, as well as negotiating separation agreements. We are also very knowledgeable concerning the parental alienation of children by mothers. Feel free to call us at your earliest convenience should you need a fathers’ rights attorney. Our phone numbers are 1-800- 344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.