Wednesday, July 27, 2022

In Cell Phone Camera

The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department has suspended an attorney for six months as reciprocal discipline

The respondent had an appearance on behalf of the plaintiff creditors in courtroom 164 for a trial in a bankruptcy case, which was before Judge Sean Lane. While waiting for the proceedings to begin, before Judge Lane took the bench, the respondent used his cell phone to photograph an individual in the courtroom who he believed was conspiring with the defendant to hide bankruptcy assets. In addition, he “inadvertently” took video footage in the courtroom until he realized that his cell phone camera was set to the video, rather than the still-photo, setting.

The respondent was questioned by a court security officer, and admitted taking photos and video. Pursuant to the standing order, on December 3, 2014, United States District Judge Nelson S. Roman, a member of the court’s Security Committee, revoked the respondent’s Attorney Service Pass, and the matter was referred to the court’s Committee on Grievances.

In the ensuing proceeding

the Southern District’s Committee on Grievances issued an opinion and order dated January 20, 2016. The opinion and order recited the underlying facts as set forth above, and found that the respondent committed a “blatant” violation of the standing order, which, in turn, constituted a “clear” violation of the above-cited Rules of Professional Conduct. The Committee on Grievances further found that the respondent’s submissions raised no issues requiring a hearing. Based on the record and his admissions, the Committee on Grievances found that the respondent violated the above-cited rules. Although the respondent was afforded the opportunity to weigh in on the appropriate disciplinary sanction, he did not do so.

The federal court ordered a six-month and until further order suspension

“The Court takes seriously the taking of photographs or video footage inside its courthouses because of the potential adverse impact on witnesses, litigants, and jurors. This point seems entirely lost on Respondent, who is far more dismissive than he is apologetic. The Court also notes that Respondent was previously sanctioned by this Court on at least two separate occasions for conduct entirely unrelated to the matter at issue here..."

He did not notify the Second Department but

After his suspension in the Southern District, the respondent, pro se, commenced three federal court actions in that District against, among others, his wife and a number of New York State judges, including the Chief Judge of the State of New York and the then-Presiding Justice of this Court, seeking relief pursuant to 42 USC § 1983, pertaining to his New York State matrimonial and Family Court matters. All of those actions were dismissed. The respondent contends, among other things, that the “crux” of the Southern District’s suspension order was his federal court litigation, and that the instant reciprocal disciplinary proceeding is “retaliation” against him for disclosing “corrupt” practices in the New York State court system.

(Mike Frisch)

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