Jaspan Schlesinger Wins Criminal Contempt Trial
Date: February 26th, 2018
Location:New York, New York


On February 20, 2018, Judge Rita Mella of the New York County Surrogate’s Court entered a guilty verdict on a criminal contempt claim prosecuted by Jaspan Schlesinger LLP on behalf of two of its clients.

Jaspan Schlesinger LLP’s clients were two law firms and the respondent was their former client.  At the conclusion of the law firms’ representation of respondent, he refused to pay their legal fees. The law firms, acting pro se, filed a proceeding against respondent in Surrogate's Court alleging breach of contract and seeking to enforce a charging lien. During the pendency of that proceeding, the Surrogate’s Court issued three orders requiring respondent to make $20,000 monthly payments to the law firms' escrow account as security for the ultimate award in the breach of contract proceeding. Over the course of eight years, respondent failed to make a single $20,000 payment notwithstanding the Court's repeated directives.

In 2015, the law firms, again acting pro se, commenced a contempt proceeding against respondent based on his violation of the Court’s orders. Jaspan Schlesinger LLP was retained as lead trial counsel and co-counsel to the Law Offices of Craig Avedisian, P.C. Partners  Jessica M. Baquet and Natasha Shishov tried the case over twelve days in 2016 and 2017. Judge Mella ultimately found that the Jaspan attorneys proved beyond a reasonable doubt that respondent had willfully and repeatedly violated the Court’s lawful orders despite his ample ability to make the mandated payments. Respondent was sentenced to a term of twenty days in a New York City correctional facility and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000.

Ms. Baquet and Ms. Shishov also tried the underlying breach of contract proceeding over approximately a dozen days in 2016 and 2017, and await a verdict therein.

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