Friday, March 25, 2011
The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has ordered the immediate suspension of an attorney who was the subject of complaints from immigration clients. The court explained:
The [Departmental Disciplinary] Committee's investigation into respondent's conduct began when it received complaints from three clients of respondents, two of whom complained that respondent had neglected their immigration matters, another who complained of respondent's failure to communicate and to turn over files. After notices sent to all of respondent's known addresses were returned as undeliverable, a Committee investigator obtained information that respondent had moved to China, and located a former colleague of respondent's, who forwarded the Committee's email to respondent in China.
In email to the Committee, respondent indicated that he had closed his office in November 2008 and moved back to China after that. He explained that he had taken no steps to formally resign because he thought non-payment of the biennial registration fee would serve to inform the Committee that he had discontined his practice.
The Committee then informed respondent by responsive email that he was required to provide a mailing address where he could be reached, and to formally answer the three client complaints, or, in the alternative, to acknowledge the misconduct and pursue a disciplinary resignation. Although respondent continued to ask, through email, for further information about the complaints, he did not provide a mailing address.
In the absence of a means of personally serving respondent with this interim suspension motion, the Committee sought and received an order directing service by publication, which was effectuated.
Although the attorney was admitted by the Third Department, his last known New York address was in the First; the court thus has jurisdiction. (Mike Frisch)