Nos. 270 & 369, January Term, 1979 and No. 80-3-704, Appeal from the Orders of the Special Disciplinary Court Dated June 8, 1979, September 4, 1979 and August 6, 1980
John W. Herron, Philadelphia, and Allen B. Zerfoss, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Thomas B. Rutter, Philadelphia, for appellants.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ.
Harry J. Oxman and Ralph S. Levitan appeal from orders of the Special Disciplinary Court of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia suspending them from the practice of law for one and one-half years and one year respectively for 29 violations of the Canons of Ethics and the Code of Professional Responsibility.*fn1 Because we conclude that the findings of fact are adequately supported by the record, and because those facts forcefully establish that appellants are unworthy of the public trust and confidence vested in them
as members of the legal profession, we affirm the orders imposing discipline.*fn2
The record discloses a pattern of serious misconduct by appellants, culminating in a reprehensible effort to impede the disciplinary investigation by requesting witnesses to give false testimony. William R. Jordan ("Jordan"), an "investigator" employed by appellants' law firm ("firm"), frequently appeared at accidents, hospitals, and the homes of accident victims for the purpose of persuading potential claimants to retain the firm. Contingent fee agreements were then filed by appellants in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia which falsified referral sources in an effort to conceal their unethical solicitations. Appellants thereafter compounded their earlier transgressions by counseling and requesting clients and former clients to testify falsely before the investigating judge in the Special Judicial Investigation. The sufficiency of the evidence establishing these facts is not challenged.
On September 6, 1972, then Special Counsel William Stewart filed a Petition for Imposition of Discipline. A trial on the merits was held, and, on July 16, 1973, the Court suspended Oxman from the practice of law for five years and Levitan for three years.*fn3 Because of the conduct of Special Counsel during the trial, however, that decision was reversed by an Order of this Court on October 16, 1974, and the case was remanded for a new hearing.*fn4
Upon remand, the Court did not conduct a new hearing, but reconsidered the prior record, and on December 27, 1974, issued a supplemental Order and Opinion reimposing the same discipline. Because the reconvened Court did not afford appellants a new hearing on the merits, however, this ...