Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has ordered a suspension of six months for the following misconduct
Charge one alleges that the respondent "made a materially false statement and/or deliberately failed to disclose a material fact" requested in connection with his application for admission to the Bar, in violation of rule 8.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0). In or about December 2010, the respondent filed an application for admission to the Bar of the State of New York with the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department, dated and notarized on November 30, 2010. On that application, the respondent answered "No" to the following question:
"12. Have you ever, either as an adult or a juvenile, been cited, arrested, taken into custody, charged with, indicted, convicted or tried for, or pleaded guilty to, the commission of any felony or misdemeanor or the violation of any law, except minor parking violations, or been the subject of any juvenile delinquency or youthful offender proceeding?"
The respondent knew at the time he completed and filed his Bar application that, on or about April 22, 2008, in the Criminal Court of the City of New York, Kings County, he had pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192(3), an unclassified misdemeanor.
In view of the evidence adduced, and the respondent's admissions, the Special Referee properly sustained the charge. Accordingly, the Grievance Committee's motion to confirm the report of the Special Referee is granted.
In mitigation, the respondent asks the Court to consider the following circumstances: his relative young age; his cooperation with the Grievance Committee; his sincere remorse; the fact that he has learned from his mistake and presents no risk of engaging in misconduct in the future; the fact that he overcame his personal and family circumstances as a refugee from Ukraine; and his excellent reputation as an honest and ethical attorney.
Notwithstanding the above mitigating factors, the respondent failed to disclose his arrest or conviction on more than one occasion. He not only failed to disclose his conviction on his application to the Bar, but he failed to disclose his arrest on his application to Thomas Cooley School of Law, and failed to disclose his conviction on his application to transfer to Hofstra Law School. The respondent testified that he knew that his conduct at the time to be ethically and morally wrong, but that he really wanted to gain admission to law school, and also feared that disclosure of his conviction would result in a denial of his application for admission to the Bar. The Court considers these multiple omissions to be an aggravating factor.
Lesson: tell the truth on law school and bar admission applications. (Mike Frisch)