Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on January 18, 1982. At all times relevant to this proceeding, respondent maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department. A Bronx DWI Lawyer said that, in December 2001, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee (Committee) served respondent with a notice and statement of charges alleging 28 counts of professional misconduct against him involving seven separate legal matters. The charges alleged that respondent engaged in a pattern of misconduct including the repeated disregard of court orders and directives; misrepresentations to clients, adversaries and courts; and the repeated neglect of client matters, often resulting in default judgments. By order entered November 28, 2001, this Court appointed a Referee to hear and report on the charges. Respondent filed an answer with affirmative defenses in January 2002.
A New York Criminal Lawyer said that, prior to the hearing, the Committee made a motion before the Referee requesting that the doctrine of collateral estoppel be applied to find respondent guilty of 11 of the 28 counts charged, based upon the findings and decisions issued by four courts. Respondent opposed the motion, and by decision dated November 1, 2002, the Referee granted the collateral estoppel motion on six of the 11 counts requested. Following 23 days of liability hearings on the remaining counts, the Referee issued a February 18, 2003 report sustaining 12 other counts and dismissing 13 counts. Three days of sanction hearings were held, with the Committee recommending disbarment and respondent, citing various mitigating factors, arguing for a public censure. In a final report dated May 5, 2003, the Referee recommended a five-year suspension. A Hearing Panel was convened, and it heard oral argument and accepted written submissions from both parties. In a written determination dated March 2, 2004, the Hearing Panel affirmed the Referee’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, except as to count 3, which it disaffirmed, and it further affirmed the Referee’s recommended sanction of a five-year suspension.
A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said that, the Committee now moves for an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4 (d), confirming the Referee’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, as modified by the Hearing Panel’s recommendation, and imposing a sanction suspending respondent from the practice of law for a period not less than five years. A review of the five matters in which charges were sustained follows.