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Fined $10,000 for Bullying Judge and Attorney | Denied Custody of Minor Child
A patent attorney was fined $10,000 for what presiding judge Matthew Cooper called “a maelstrom of misconduct” during divorce proceedings last September in Manhattan Supreme Court. According to Cooper, attorney Anthony Zappin used his law license as “a tool to threaten, bully and intimidate” throughout the course of the divorce proceedings.
Zappin’s wife, Claire Comfort, also a patent attorney in Manhattan, filed for divorce from Zappin last year. Zappin sought unsupervised custody of the couple’s two-year-old son. The court then appointed attorney Harriet Cohen as guardian ad litem to help determine the best interests of the child. When Cohen recommended that Zappin only be allowed supervised visitation, Zappin apparently unleashed a string of online attacks against Cohen. Documenting what he perceived to be continued bad behavior by Zappin, Judge Cooper levied the fine. Zappin then accused the judge of putting “personal animus over the welfare of our child.” According to sources, Zappin was terminated by his employer in the wake of the court-imposed fine.
This week, Judge Cooper issued a 101 page ruling, confirming the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, allowing only supervised visits, and subjecting Zappin to a five year protective order. Concluding that Zappin had an “anti-social personality disorder,” Cooper awarded full legal and physical custody to Comfort. The judge concluded that evidence introduced at the 13 day trial demonstrated that Zappin had physically abused his wife at least eight times during her pregnancy, and had waged what Cooper called “a war of intimate terrorism.” The judge also expressed his concern that, given Zappin’s “coercive, controlling behavior” and his “explosive anger and inability to control his emotions,” the child’s personal safety was a concern. He also feared that Zappin’s behavior would be a sign to the boy that violence was acceptable in interpersonal relationships.
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