Hello welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss another New York appellate opinion which suspended a lawyer for 6 months after she pled guilty to one count of petit larceny for falsifying a paid leave request while employed by a New York public school. The case is: In the Matter of Brenna L. Stewart, 2010 NY Slip Op 03047 [74 AD3d 51] April 15, 2010.
According to the opinion, the lawyer was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York on January 23, 1995. In 2005, the lawyer submitting a false document to her then employer, a New York public school, in order to receive paid leave to which she was not entitled. The false document was an altered death certificate that she used to improperly obtain paid bereavement leave. On September 3, 2008, the pled guilty to and was convicted of one count of petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor, for criminal charges brought against her. On October 10, 2008, she was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge (dismissal after compliance with conditions).
The NY Appellate Court issued an order finding that the criminal charge was a “serious crime” and directed a hearing panel to hold a hearing and recommend the appropriate sanction. The panel heard evidence of the lawyer’s extensive pro bono legal and community service, and considered “the convergence of personal, medical, financial and emotional problems upon her at the time of her misconduct”, her remorse, and the fact that restitution had been paid to the Department of Education. The panel recommended a suspension of six months and the opinion approved that recommendation and suspended the lawyer for 6 months.
Bottom line: Not sure what this lawyer was thinking, but this is a clear example of how lawyers can be disciplined for conduct outside of the practice of law. The Supreme Court of Florida has consistently stated in its disciplinary opinions that “a lawyer, is a lawyer, is a lawyer” and Florida lawyers can and will be disciplined for such misconduct.
Please be careful out there!
THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.
PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS
DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES
(AND MUCH MORE!)
My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms. If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.
If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at email@example.com. You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida. I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.
You are receiving this ETHICS ALERT since you are a current or former client or you have requested that this Update be sent to you. Please note that you may opt in or out of receiving this ETHICS ALERT any time. If you would like to discontinue receipt of this ETHICS ALERT or if you would like to begin receiving it, simply send me an e-mail to me advising of your request.
If there are others at your firm who would like to be included on the distribution list, please feel free to forward this update to them or let us know in an email. If you would like to forward this Ethics Alert to any person or entity please feel free do so as long as it is not for personal gain and you forward the entire email, including all contact information and disclaimers.
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670
NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY: This electronic communication and the information contained herein is legally privileged and confidential proprietary information intended only for the individual and/or entity to whom it is addressed pursuant to the American Bar Association Formal Opinion No. 99-413, dated March 10, 1999 and all other applicable laws and rules. If you receive this transmission in error, you are advised that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance upon the communication is strictly prohibited. Any unauthorized use, distribution, or disclosure of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail at the above telephone number and then delete message entirely from your system. Thank you for your cooperation.