May 16, 2008
Reciprocal discipline was imposed by the New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department based on a six-month suspension from New Jersey. The attorney fought reciprocal discipline, alleging an infirmity of proof and complaining about the length of time between the misconduct and the New York discipline. The charges arose out of the attorney's representation of her 91 year old grandmother:
The respondent's testimony was devoted largely to background facts giving rise to the multiple court proceedings which took place pertaining to various family-owned companies and/or properties. The respondent attempted to show that the litigation was the product of intense intra-family disputes and that her New Jersey suspension was the outgrowth of that litigation. The respondent also, over objection, delved into the duration of the New Jersey grievance proceedings, which were commenced in 1997. She attempted to show that because the complaint had been hanging over her head for so long (i.e., 10 years), reciprocal discipline should not be imposed by this Court. In the alternative, the respondent attempted to show that the delay prejudiced her case. With regard to the respondent's defense that the imposition of reciprocal discipline by this Court would be unjust, she relied on the fact that the DEC had recommended only a reprimand, that she had already been reinstated in New Jersey, that she had paid all her attorney registration fees in New York and New Jersey, and that she was current, as well, with her Continuing Legal Education requirements.
As Alan has noted, representing relatives has its own special dangers. The attorney also had been convicted of 12 counts of failure to provide sustenance in violation of Agriculture and Markets Act Section 353, an unclassified misdemeanor. The disciplinary charges relating to the conviction were held in abeyance pending the outcome of the reciprocal matter. (Mike Frisch)
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