Tuesday, July 6, 2010
An attorney who was admitted to practice in 1956 was suspended for six months by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Deapartment. His only prior discipline was imposed in 1990. The court noted mitigating evidence:
Respondent is an 82-year-old solo practitioner, who mostly handles indigent criminal and immigration cases, but also matrimonial and other civil matters. He served in the Navy during World War II, and briefly held offices in a Veterans organization, AMVETS. In 1990, he was admonished for neglecting a client matter (he waited five years before seeking a deposition and did not move to restore the case to the calendar until the disciplinary complaint), and lending a client money for purposes other than litigation expenses.
Two long-term clients (Roy Belaief and Marlene Liggett) and two more recent ones (Walid El Sayed and Meena Raguthu) testified on behalf of respondent that they were pleased with the quality of his work and the promptness of his responses.
Holmes [the complainant in this matter] testified that she had withdrawn her complaint upon respondent's assurance "that he would do better with the case, but nothing changed." She agreed to accept a $10,000 payment from respondent, who promised to send a certified check within 30 days.
We find that a six-month suspension is appropriate. While respondent's many years of practice, and his military service cannot be overlooked, it is evident that he neglected the matter entrusted to him over a very lengthy period of time, and was less than candid and cooperative when the investigation was ongoing. A mere censure or admonition would serve to ignore the significance of respondent's acts—which was the neglect of a matter entrusted to him by a client who had placed her faith in him.