Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Automatic Disbarment Imposed

In New York, disbarment is automatic for a felony conviction under New York law. For other felony convictions, the courts impose automatic disbarment where the conviction amounts to felony under New York law. Thus, an attorney convicted of a RICO crime will not be summarily disbarred because there is no state RICO offense. However, the Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department applied the automatic disbarment rule against an attorney convicted of making a false statement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 1001, notwithstanding the absence of a comparable state felony. The court reasoned:

"The federal felony of making a false statement does not have a direct felony analog under New York law. However, it is undisputed that under respondent's plea agreement and during the plea allocution she admitted to engaging in conduct constituting the New York felony of scheme to defraud in the first degree. The New York felony requires proof that the defendant intentionally engaged in a scheme to defraud one or more persons by means of false pretenses, representations or promises, and thereby obtained property in excess of $1,000...

Specifically, respondent admitted to participating 'in a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property, including a contract worth approximately $49 million, as well as funds actually paid pursuant to the contract, from Cook County by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and omissions of material facts.' Since these factual admissions demonstrate that respondent was convicted of a New York felony as defined by Judiciary Law ยง 90(4)(e), automatic disbarment is appropriate." (Mike Frisch)

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