Queens Divorce Attorney Found Beaten and Stabbed to Death

Charles Zolot, a Queen’s family law and bankruptcy attorney, was dedicated to helping
those in need. And yet, it is said that no good deed goes unpunished.
Such may have been the case with Zolot, who was found brutally beaten and stabbed to
death on the floor of his office on the morning of August 5 by the building’s janitor.
District Attorney Melinda Katz confirmed that Zolot had sustained at least 20 stab

On August 9th, police arrested and charged Nando Perez with the killing. He has since
been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. It is believed that
Perez was a former client of Zolot’s who was unhappy because of a recent foreclosure.

Concern Over Unhappy Clients

Charles Zolot was described as a hard-working, quiet man who lived alone. He was
known as a kind man who helped those who needed it most. But like most lawyers, he
had clients who could be upset with their outcomes. Such may have been the case with
Perez. In fact, one of Zolot’s clerical staff had recently reported feeling concerned about
a client. It is not known if this was Perez.

Other lawyers in the building are left on edge, citing Zolot’s death as a wake-up call for
anyone who handles clients who could be triggered after unsatisfactory legal outcomes
or disputes.

Attorney Mark Drucker, an immigration attorney with an office in the building, said, “As a
lawyer, you’re always afraid of some clients that could get really upset with you, and
we’re living in a very crazy time when people get very agitated very quickly.”

Threats to Attorneys Are More Common Than We Know

Unfortunately, attorneys experience threats and verbal abuse, frequently from their own
clients. While these rarely escalate to violence or murder, it is well understood in the
industry that people are often at their last straw when seeking an attorney.
Stephen Kelson, a litigator in Salt Lake City, has been studying violence and threats
against lawyers for over two decades and is one of the few who have investigated it. He
says that criminal defence lawyers and divorce lawyers are at the greatest risk.
Kelson says, “If you go out and look, there really is no method to determine the rate of
violence against attorneys. It happens, but it rarely gets recorded unless there’s
something that really catches the media’s attention.”

Survey-based studies over 22 states conducted by Kelson have shown that 35.5 to 46.5
percent of attorneys have experienced threatening behaviour or assaults. According to
the studies, these threatening behaviours include phone conversations, letters, emails,
texts, online posts, verbal threats, and hiring hitmen. Acts of violence range from
vandalism to physical assault. We may now have to add murder to that list.

Protection Against Violent Clients

Kelson suggests that the best defence against potentially violent clients is to proactively
avoid them when possible. He also suggests the removal of any home addresses from
public sources as well as creating warning phrases that can be used by front-line staff to
subtly warn others in the office of an issue.
Bottom line, he says, “If it seems like an emotionally unfit client and that’s going to be a
the problem, it’s just not a case I’m going to take.”
Unfortunately, for Mr. Zolot, representing clients at the end of their ropes is what he was
dedicated to. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

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