Friday, May 2, 2014

"A Turbulent History"

The New York Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department has disbarred an attorney who had failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings

By decision dated November 4, 2010, this Court suspended respondent from the practice of law for a period of one year (Matter of Morisseau, 78 AD3d 1321 [2010]). Her subsequent motion to vacate that suspension was denied. Since 2011, she has failed to comply with the attorney registration requirements. Petitioner now charges that respondent, in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rule 8.4 (b), (d) and (h), engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on her honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, which conduct is prejudicial to the administration of justice by forwarding a series of hate-filled, threatening and defamatory emails concerning a federal judge to an attorney investigating her conduct.

Respondent has not answered the petition or otherwise appeared in response to the charges or the subsequent motion for a default judgment by petitioner, although both were served upon her in compliance with the rules of this Court. Petitioner has filed an affidavit in support of the default motion and charges. Under the circumstances, respondent is deemed to have admitted the charges and we therefore grant the motion...

Respondent has a turbulent disciplinary history that includes the one-year suspension issued by this Court and the issuance of an order indefinitely precluding her from appearing before a federal court (Matter of Morisseau, 763 F Supp 2d 648 [SD NY 2011]). Respondent has evinced a disregard for her professional responsibilities and a disinterest in her fate as an attorney by not responding to the instant motion or appearing in this proceeding.

The attorney had previously sued DLA Piper and lost, as recounted in the District Court decision

This is a sad case. Plaintiff, according to her academic record and Piper's internal evaluations, appears to be a talented person. But the record indisputably shows that she had serious problems working with others during her employment by Piper.

New York is an employment-atwill state. As judges frequently and correctly instruct juries, an employer, in the absence of a contract of employment, can fire an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all save that it may not do so out of racial or other proscribed motives or to retaliate for an employee's protected activity.

In this case, Piper was entirely with its rights in deciding that plaintiffs behavior was unacceptable unless plaintiff's race or her complaints of racial discrimination was a motivating factor in the firm's decision. There was no admissible evidence from which a jury reasonably could find that either played a role.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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