Masked lawyer who whispered to client at Zoom deposition urges no further discipline

A boardroom is seen in an office building in Manhattan, New York City, New York
A boardroom is seen in an office building in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Boston judge found lawyer was "exploiting" Zoom deposition
  • Attorney said ouster from case was appropriate punishment

A Boston lawyer admitting to "poor judgment" has urged a federal judge not to punish him any further for misconduct after being accused of coaching a client while they were wearing face masks during a deposition on the Zoom video platform.

The lawyer, Jeffrey Rosin, managing partner of the Boston office of O'Hagan Meyer, on Nov. 24 responded to an order to show cause addressing Massachusetts U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani's findings that Rosin committed misconduct when he "exploit[ed] the remote nature of the deposition to improperly assist" a client in an employment lawsuit.

Lawyers and other professionals embraced remote-video platforms to conduct depositions and client meetings as the COVID-19 pandemic imposed travel restrictions and limits on face-to-face interaction. Video platforms brought their own set of hurdles for lawyers, who were accustomed to in-person depositions where body language and eye contact were as much in focus as answers to questions.

Rosin and his lawyer, Susan Cohen of Boston's Peabody & Arnold, did not immediately respond on Monday to messages seeking comment.

Rosin, who focuses on franchise law, was accused of feeding responses to a client who formerly was a manager at the Aston, Pennsylvania-based Barksdale School Portraits LLC. The company sued Rosin's client over alleged workplace misconduct, and she brought counterclaims.

Barksdale's lawyers sought sanctions after identifying dozens of instances where Rosin was "audibly whispering answers to pending questions" during the April deposition.

Talwani on Aug. 31 disqualified Rosin from participating in the lawsuit, and she referred him to the court's chief judge to assess whether attorney discipline should be imposed. U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin was assigned to weigh any additional reprimand.

Rosin's "actions were not a momentary or single lapse of judgment but were repeated numerous times over the course of the day," Talwani wrote. She continued: Rosin's coaching "undermined the truth-seeking purpose of discovery."

Rosin "concedes poor judgment and improper comments at the deposition at-issue, but requests that no further discipline be assessed given the extent of the sanctions already imposed," Cohen told Sorokin.

Cohen said Rosin "encountered substantial technological and other adversity" and on the day of the deposition but "does not seek to excuse [his] poor judgment."

Rosin has foregone certain fees in the case, and Cohen said he is helping his clients find new lawyers. She said any "further discipline here would be disproportionate."

The case is In re: Jeffrey Rosin, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 21-mc-91571-LTS.

For Rosin: Susan Cohen of Peabody & Arnold

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