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In re Goldstein

Supreme Court of Delaware

December 20, 1951

In re GOLDSTEIN.

Original petition charging unprofessional conduct on the part of a member of the bar. The Supreme Court, Southerland, C. J., held that the attorney's making a secret profit at his client's expense was a breach of trust.

Disciplinary action to be taken at forthcoming session.

[46 Del. 451] Henry M. Canby and James L. Latchum, Wilmington, petitioners, constituting a committee of the bar appointed by the Court.

Daniel O. Hastings, Wilmington, for respondent Louis Goldstein.

SOUTHERLAND, C. J., and WOLCOTT and TUNNELL, JJ., sitting.

SOUTHERLAND, Chief Justice.

Pursuant to charges of unprofessional conduct against Louis Goldstein, Esquire, a member of the bar, the Censor Committee of this Court held hearings upon the matter and filed its report with the Court. The report finds that certain of the canons of professional ethics have been violated by the respondent, viz., canon 6, relating to an attorney's representation of an interest adverse to that of his client; canon 9, relating to direct communications by an attorney to one represented by another attorney; and canon 38, relating to the acceptance of compensation or commissions from others without the knowledge and consent of his client. The Committee accordingly found the respondent guilty of unprofessional conduct.

[46 Del. 452] By direction of the Court a committee of the bar has filed a petition presenting these charges against the respondent. To the bar committee's petition the respondent has filed an answer in the nature of a motion to dismiss. The bar committee and respondent's counsel have entered into a stipulation accepting as correct certain findings of fact embodied in the

Page 362

report of the Censor Committee and submitting to the Court the record of the testimony and exhibits received at the Censor Committee's hearing of the matter. Under the terms oft he stipulation the Court is free to examine the record and make its own findings and reach its own conclusions.

The state of the pleadings, above outlined, leaves for our determination only the following question:

Do the admitted facts justify the conclusion of the Censor Committee, and the charges of the bar committee, that the respondent has been guilty of unprofessional conduct?

The essential facts are these:

In September of 1950 Mr. and Mrs. Vincent J. Rago of Wilmington, Delaware, became interested in the purchase of real estate. They were offered a property by Mr. Morris Frankel on West Ninth Street for $12,000, $700 to be paid down in cash and the second mortgage to be taken by Mr. Frankel, representing the difference between the amount of an obtainable first mortgage and the balance remaining due. The Ragos retained the respondent Goldstein to represent them.

During the discussion about the possible purchase of the Ninth Street property Goldstein asked Mrs. Rago whether she would be interested in buying a house from him for $12,000 on the same basis as the Frankel proposal if a more desirable house could be found. Mrs. Rago assented. Goldstein examined some newspaper advertisements and found that a house, 910 West 10th Street, was for sale. Telephoning the agent he found the price to be $10,500 and so advised Mrs. Rago. Mrs. Rago inspected the property and liked it. Mr. and Mrs. Hodgson, the [46 Del. 453] owners, informed her that the price included a refrigerator and stove. Subsequently Mrs. Rago telephoned Goldstein her approval of the Tenth Street house. Goldstein thereupon negotiated for the purchase, leaving the impression with Mr. O'Keefe, the Hodgsons' agent, that he was acting for a client. Goldstein finally made an offer of $10,300 for the property and it was accepted, and on October 3, 1950, a contract of sale was signed ...


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