Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department granted a motion to suspend an attorney who was alleged to have engaged in law practice while suspended for failure to register, pay dues and complete CLE.
The [Departmental Disciplinary Committee] began its investigation into respondent's conduct after it received a November 22, 2013 complaint letter from an attorney reporting that respondent "may have been and may still be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law." Specifically, the complaint indicated that respondent represented a client in the purchase of a restaurant. According to the complaining attorney, when he attempted to commence a lawsuit in Nassau County against respondent, and others, on behalf of respondent's former client, he was told by OCA that respondent had neither registered nor paid registration fees since his admission in 1958.
Note --the attorney was unregistered for over thirty years.
The bar filed a motion to suspend
The DDC argues that this Court has repeatedly held that failure to register or re-register and pay registration fees constitutes professional misconduct warranting discipline, citing our mass suspension cases. As proof that respondent has actively engaged in the practice of law, the DDC has provided a printout from a "cursory search of" the Unified Court System's (UCS) eCourts website. The DDC contends that this printout demonstrates that respondent actively represented clients in Civil and Supreme Courts from the late 1970s through the 1990s and into the first few years of this century.
Respondent has not served a response and as of March 26, 2014, the UCS public attorney registration website continues to show that he is not registered. Respondent is approximately 80 years old, and appears not to have engaged in any other misconduct. However, he readily admits his ongoing failure to register, pay fees, and earn the required CLE credits. In light of these conceded facts, and respondent's acknowledgment to the DDC investigator that he is aware of his obligation to register with OCA and earn CLE credits, and given respondent's default on this motion, the DDC's motion to immediately suspend respondent should be granted and respondent suspended from the practice of law until further order of this Court.