Friday, October 9, 2009

The Astor Trial--Questions

The conviction of Anthony Marshall and his attorney pal, Francis Morrissey in the ransacking of Brooke Astor's estate ends one of the longest trials in recent history, at least for now. One wonders what if any appellate issues arise from such things as the reported jury strife. Check the Wall Stree Journal law blog which contains a further link to the NYT story.

I confess ignorance about Probate law so here's, my question: okay, Anthony Marshall is a freakin' hump, a worthless, scumbag, and his wife, Charlene a social climbing philistine; 'wasn't this money he was convicted of taking, ultimately his money in the end? Did Marshall just get convicted of stealing his own money? Wasn't he Brooke Astor's sole heir? Did New York just spend millions to prosecute a guy for stealing money he was inevitably going to inherit? Is something misguided about this?

The Lawyer forgery aspect of this is really appalling. Morrissey went to extraordinary lengths to forge codicils. It reminds me of a case from years ago--a bankruptcy lawyer I knew was administering an estate when a lawyer for a debtor contested a claim for some real estate claimed by the trustee. The lawyer produced a deed previously prepared and notarized by the attorney which the attorney claimed had not been filed but which purported to transfer the real estate out of the hands of the debtor years earlier. The only problem was the deed form itself, (yes, back in the old days we used printed forms from Legal Blank companies) bore a publication date of more recent vintage establishing irrebuttable proof of fraud by the lawyer. The lawyer killed himself when the fraud was discovered.

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