Monday, April 27, 2009

Not In Jest

The New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department imposed a term of suspension of two years or until federal probation is terminated, whichever period is longer of an attorney convicted of conspiracy to violate the Mann Act, which involves transportation of an individual to another state to engage in prostitution. The court determined that the offense was a serious crime but noted the attorney's "previously unblemished record and expression of extreme remorse." The suspension will also continue until further court order.

According to this report in the Daily Independent Online, the lawyer was the clerk of a Supreme Court judge who has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing in the same matter. The report states that the matter arose from an investigation of "human trafficking by a men's organization known as the Royal Order of Jesters."

The Buffalo Law Journal reports on the judge's plea:

Tills admitted that in October 2005, he, along with John Trowbridge, Michael Stebick and others, drove a woman from Buffalo to Kentucky so she could be available to engage in prostitution with members of a men’s organization. Tills was a member of that organization.

As part of his plea proceedings, Tills admitted engaging in similar conduct five more times. 

This link should take you to the court's web page. The case is Matter of Stebick, decided April 24, 2009. (Mike Frisch)

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The Mann Act is a felony. Why is there no discussion in the decision of whether this felony conviction resulted in the automatic disbarment of the attorney?

Just a two year suspension for an employee of the judiciary branch who has engaged in a pattern of facilitating prostitution? Why isn’t this considered organised crime? Am I the only one that finds this to be extremely lenient? Since when do the New York courts credit a “previously unblemished record”? As for the remorse, the attorney claims he was acting at the direction of others and didn’t know that she was illegal, since when are these signs of “extreme remorse”?

This was a federal prosecution exposing criminal and unethical conduct by members of the judiciary and those under their command. This is not a prosecution instituted by the New York authorities. Given the obvious conflicts and potential for bias here, the Forth Department needs to do a much better job of explaining its decision in this case. The decision doesn’t even acknowledge the full facts of the case. In fact, I had a very hard time even finding the decision.

Another outrage from New York.


Posted by: FixedWing | Apr 27, 2009 6:50:32 AM

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