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LawCrossing Feature

Sex v. Money in Attorney Ethics – Two Recent Cases Two cases of discipline and suspension involving professional misconduct of attorneys were decided within the same week in New York. Since all appellate departments in New York now follow the Rules of Professional Conduct under the New York State Unified Court System one can reasonably expect uniformity in the application of the law.

However the two cases and the related penalties on

The first case, involving sexual misconduct with a

professional misconduct either serve to show the

client, was against a really senior lawyer, who argued

disparity between treating sexual misconduct and

that he suffered from periods of mental illness (when

financial misconduct, as bearing on the profession,

such things happened) and that he had paid damages

or they serve to show that ‘who throws the greater

to the client (money for sex) and that he had a “long

weight’ matters in misconduct.

and honorable” career as a lawyer (that no one had succeeded in exposing him earlier).

The earlier case, where the concerned attorney received a suspension of nine months, extended

The court noted the “respondent failed to act in

from an initial recommendation of three months,

accordance with the high standards imposed upon

was of sexual misconduct. The accused used to be a

members of the bar and his misconduct reflects

member of the First Department’s Attorney Character

adversely on his fitness as a lawyer and upon the legal

and Fitness Committee, and committed the sexual


misconduct proving his loose character while serving on the Attorney Character and Fitness committee.

Sentence was suspension from the bar for nine months.

The suspension was passed by his own department,

The second case was of a relatively new entrant to the

the First Department, and the court found the accused

profession. A music teacher, who worked in different

had groped a female client and took her hand in his

schools as a music teacher, then did his law degree

and rubbed her hand all over his groin. Nine months

and joined the profession. His roots were not grounded

suspension, for sexual misconduct by a senior

and network was not strong. He had no “long and

attorney serving on the Attorney Character and Fitness

honorable” career as a lawyer and did not “suffer


from periods of mental illness” when he engaged in misconduct. The court noted that upon being

The other case, decided against an associate working

apprehended, the accused expressed regrets and said

in a private law firm is of financial misconduct. The

family problems and health issues contributed to his

associate billed his employers and clients without


performing any work. The decision, passed by the Appellate Division, Third Department is suspension for

The court noted, “To protect the public, deter similar

two years.

misconduct, and preserve the reputation of the bar, respondent should be suspended from the practice of

What’s the difference?


law for a period of two years.”

continued on back


LawCrossing Feature

Draw your own conclusions.

The next one is the Matter of Mark D. Nizer, No. 4106894, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division,

The first case is Matter of Greenberg, No. 00278,

Third Department.

Appellate Division, First Department, Supreme Court.


Sex v. Money In Attorney Ethics – Two Recent Cases |  

sexual misconduct v financial misconduct in attorney disciplinary proceedings.

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