Thursday, February 27, 2020
The New York Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department imposed a suspension of eight months and until further order for the following conduct
Following receipt of a complaint in December 2016, petitioner commenced an investigation into allegations that respondent had made several inappropriate comments to a 12-year-old female client (born in 2003; hereinafter the child) and had improperly reviewed and downloaded information from the child's social media account during an interview conducted following his appointment as attorney for the child (hereinafter AFC). In March 2019, petitioner initiated this proceeding, alleging that respondent had engaged in conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness as a lawyer
The referee considered the single charge in four parts
The first group concerned respondent's examination of the child's social media account during the interview. The second group concerned respondent's inquiry into the child's past sexual conduct, which included an explicit description of a past matter that he had handled as a former prosecutor, as well as a description of attorney/client confidentiality that included a reference to the child's genitals. The third group concerned an allegation that, during the meeting, respondent made a second reference to the child's genitals prompted by the child adjusting an article of clothing. Finally, the fourth group concerned a statement to the child during the course of the interview asking that she not discuss the interview with anyone, with the added disclaimer that he could end up in trouble if she told anyone what they had discussed. The Referee determined that petitioner had established the factual allegations of the petition by a preponderance of the evidence, but ultimately found that only the third group of allegations constituted professional misconduct.
ORDERED that respondent is suspended from the practice of law for a period of eight months, effective March 30, 2020, and until further order of this Court