Sunday, February 7, 2021

Buffalo Attorney Sanctioned

An attorney's conditional admissions of misconduct led to a six-month suspension and until further order from the New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department.

As to one client

in December 2016, he began representing a client in a domestic relations matter and, for several weeks over the course of the representation, he engaged in a romantic relationship with the client that involved sexual relations.

A second client

in January 2017, he commenced a romantic relationship that involved sexual relations with a different woman and, while that relationship was ongoing, he agreed to represent the woman in a child custody matter without charging her a legal fee. Respondent admits that opposing counsel in the matter moved to disqualify respondent based on his relationship with the client and, although respondent opposed the motion, Family Court disqualified respondent from representing the client in the matter, albeit without specifying the grounds for the disqualification. Respondent admits, however, that before he was disqualified he sent text messages to the client threatening to inform the father of the client’s child that the client was purportedly abusing alcohol and engaging in sexual misbehavior. Although respondent did not follow through on the threats, he admits that those threats demonstrate that his sexual relationship with the client gave rise to a significant risk that his professional judgment would be adversely affected by his own personal interest in his relationship with the client.

With respect to charge three, respondent conditionally admits that, while he was engaged in the relationship with the client referenced in charge two, he and the client had a physical altercation at respondent’s home in June 2017 during which respondent, inter alia, slapped the client on her ear and placed his hands around her throat. Respondent admits that he was thereafter arrested, charged with various crimes, and served with a three-month stay away order of protection in favor of the client. Respondent also admits that, despite his knowledge of that stay away order of protection, he subsequently had multiple consensual contacts with the client, including telephone conversations, text messages, and in-person visits at respondent’s home.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

In a court case

in 2014, he appeared in Sardinia Town Court on behalf of a client to contest a “dangerous dog” complaint made by law enforcement officials under Agriculture and Markets Law § 123. Respondent admits that, during the appearance, he took issue with certain procedural and substantive rulings of Town Court, which prompted respondent to repeatedly interrupt the proceeding in an unprofessional and discourteous manner. Although respondent apologized to Town Court prior to the conclusion of the proceeding, the next day respondent published comments on social media stating that there was “no doubt” that the Town Justice was “in the[ ] pockets” of the law enforcement officials and that, when respondent raised that issue in Town Court, the Town Justice “tried to have [respondent] locked up.”

Mitigation

We have also considered, however, the matters in mitigation submitted by respondent, including his statement that the misconduct occurred while he was from alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health issues, and that he has since successfully sought treatment for those issues.

Buffalo News reported that he is a former prosecutor.

Albert gained a degree of renown several years ago when, as an assistant district attorney, he was a prosecutor in the animal cruelty case against Beth Lynn Hoskins, an East Aurora woman accused of neglecting dozens of Morgan horses she owned for show and sale. Albert was fired from the District Attorney's Office in June 2013 because of a relationship he was having at the time with a woman who worked for the SPCA of Erie County, which had conducted the raid that led to Hoskins’ arrest.

When he was fired, Albert reportedly said he no longer was in a relationship with the SPCA employee. She is not the woman he is accused of choking in his Richmond Avenue home on June 1, 2017.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2021/02/an-attorneys-conditional-admissions-of-misconduct-has-led-to-a-six-month-suspension-and-until-further-order-from-the-new-york.html

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