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Ethics & Professional Regulation Archives

January 29, 2007

NY Lawyer Bloggers Discuss Amended Advertising Rules

Law librarian Jim Milles of Check This Out! podcasts an update on blogging and the New York lawyer advertising rules with New York legal bloggers Bill Altreuter of Outside Counsel, Nicole Black of Sui Generis and Matt Lerner of New York Civil Law Blog.

Here is a direct link to Jim's podcast Episode 58.

February 3, 2007

Public Citizen Lawsuit Seeks Injunction Against Unconstitutional Rules

Public Citizen | Press Room - New Lawyer Advertising Rules in New York Violate Free Speech, Impede Internet Communications and Nonprofit Legal Services


WASHINGTON, D.C. – New rules governing lawyer advertising set to go into effect in New York violate free speech and would impose anti-consumer restrictions on lawyers’ advertising and Internet communications, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Citizen and a New York law firm.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent enforcement of New York's attorney advertising rules that are scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. The new guidelines are part of a revision of the rules contained in New York's Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers, which is designed to protect consumers by prohibiting false and misleading lawyer advertisements. The rules were released on Jan. 4 by the presiding justices of the four divisions of New York's appellate courts.

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To view the lawsuit, click here.

To read more about this issue, visit the Consumer Law & Policy Blog, co-sponsored by Public Citizen’s Consumer Justice Project.

February 7, 2007

New York Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules


Law.com - Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules

Accusing an American Bar Association panel of secretly watering down judicial ethics rules, the administrator of the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has resigned in protest from an ABA advisory council.

In a resignation letter released Monday, Robert H. Tembeckjian objected strenuously to what he said is a plan to diminish the thrust of an ethics precept that says judges should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." Tembeckjian said the ABA would make a "monumental mistake" if, as proposed, it relegates the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" provision to an unenforceable guideline.

Currently, under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which many states use as a template for their own rules, judges who violate the provision are subject to disciplinary action. But a revision inserted into a updated code and slated for consideration by the ABA next week would change that so the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" admonition would no longer constitute a rule. Rather, it would simply be a guideline.

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Read full text of article by John Caher via NY Law Journal.

February 14, 2007

“Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”

This presentation will be held in the Great Hall of the New York City Bar on the evening of February 22, 2007. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is free and will provide CLE ethics credits for attendees.

The presentation will be the public introduction of the newly adopted Rules of Conduct and is open to the legal community, but is specifically aimed at providing information to the City’s administrative law judges and hearing officers now covered by the Rules effective February 13, 2007.

The program is co-sponsored by the Office of the Administrative Justice Coordinator, the Administrative Judicial Institute at OATH, and the New York City Bar's Committees on Administrative Law, Government and Ethics, and Litigation. The presentation will provide a basic overview of the Rules and their purpose, highlight key provisions and important obligations, and allow time for questions and answers.

To register, please contact Frank Ng at 212-442-4941 or by email: fng@oath.nyc.gov

For Full Text of Rules of Conduct, see extended entry:

Continue reading " “Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”" »

February 19, 2007

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE. SUSPENSION. STAY.

Respondent (attorney) charged with neglect of legal matters and failure to communicate with clients. Respondent moved to stay disciplinary proceeding to permit him to enter the alcohol and substance abuse program of the New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), to which petitioner consented. LAP is a recognized diversion program under 22 NYCRR 806.4(g). Stay granted until such time as respondent either successfully completes rehabilitation or commits additional misconduct.

Matter of Anonymous.

February 20, 2007

IRS: Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams IR-2007-37, Feb. 20, 2007

WASHINGTON-- The Internal Revenue Service today identified 12 of the most blatant scams affecting American taxpayers and warned people not to fall for schemes peddled by scamsters.

This year the 'Dirty Dozen' highlights five new scams that IRS auditors and criminal investigators have uncovered. Topping off the list are fraudulent refunds being claimed in connection with the special Telephone Excise Tax Refund available to most taxpayers this filing season. The IRS is actively investigating instances of this scam involving tax preparers who are preparing inflated refund requests.

Also new to the Dirty Dozen this year are abuses pertaining to Roth IRAs, the American Indian Employment Credit, domestic shell corporations and structured entities.

"Taxpayers shouldn't let their guard down," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. "Don't get taken by scam artists making outrageous promises. If you use a tax professional, pick someone who is reputable. Taxpayers should remember they are ultimately responsible for what is on their tax return even if some unscrupulous preparers have steered them in the wrong direction."

Involvement in tax schemes leads to problems for scam artists and taxpayers. Tax return preparers and promoters risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes:

March 9, 2007

Editorial: Buffalo News--State underfunding deprives poor of equal justice

Buffalo News: Another Voice


Updated: 03/09/07 6:51 AM

 By Stephen R. Lamantia

Nearly a decade ago, New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye stated: "A justice system that allows disparities in justice based on the ability to pay is inconsistent with a fundamental principle of our free democratic society ' equal justice for all.'" Sadly, New York State, which prides itself as the birthplace of legal services for the poor, now ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to funding civil legal services for its low-income population. More than 80 percent of the most basic civil legal needs of New York's low-income population are not being met. These are in such critical areas as elder care, child care assistance, health care services, domestic violence and housing and human rights. The primary reason is lack of adequate state funding.

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Read Full Text of Editorial

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Stephen R. Lamantia is president of the Bar Association of Erie County.

LAP

NYSBA | Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)

The New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) provides education and confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law school students, and immediate family members who are affected by the problem of substance abuse, stress, or depression. Its goal is to assist in the prevention, early identification and intervention of problems that can affect professional conduct and quality of life.

March 13, 2007

Law.com: 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys

Law.com: 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys
Mark HamblettNew York Law Journal03-13-2007

The 2nd Circuit has formed a new committee to handle grievances against attorneys, a move officials said signals a more proactive role in evaluating ethics issues.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs announced Monday a seven-person committee that will be charged with what he called the "vital" function of investigating and filing recommendations on disciplinary matters that are referred to it by the court.

(full text of article)

March 15, 2007

COSAC Rule Proposals--Comments Needed

Here below are links to the full text of proposed rules to be presented at the June House of Delegates meeting:


Rule 1.7

Rule 1.8

Rule 1.9

Rule 1.10


The deadline for comments is May 25, 2007. Seth Rosner is the contact person for comments. His telephone number is 518-587-4802 and his e-mail is sethrosner@nycap.rr.com.

May 17, 2007

NYSBA: Attorney Advertising Regulations as of February 1 - now with Frequently Asked Questions

NYSBA | Home

The New York State Unified Court System has new attorney advertising regulations, which went into effect February 1, 2007. As a service to its members, NYSBA has compiled a brief summary of the most significant changes, as well as a redlined version of the regulations, indicating how the amendments have changed the Code of Responsibility. A summary of Frequently Asked Questions also is available. Click the links below to review the changes:

Synopsis of Changes to Code of Professional Responsibility (PDF)

Redlined Version of Advertising Regulations(PDF)

Press Release Announcing Changes

Frequently Asked Questions About Changes to Lawyer Advertising Rules(PDF)

May 23, 2007

2D Circuit Rules Judge Should Have Recused Self Over Judge's Mortgage Application Prepared By Cooperating Witness in Mortgage Fraud Case


US v. Amico, No. 03-1737


Convictions and sentences on charges arising from a mortgage fraud scheme are vacated as the district judge's handling of, and reaction to, his prior dealings with the government's main cooperating witness concerning a mortgage application for the judge created an appearance of partiality and recusal was required.

May 31, 2007

Boston Globe: Blogging defendant unmasked as "Flea"-settles case.

Blogger unmasked, court case upended - The Boston Globe

By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | May 31, 2007

It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.
As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question. Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.

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Entire article from BOSTON GLOBE

June 7, 2007

Law.com - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees-16%- Found to Be Excessive


Law.com - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees Found to Be Excessive

Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
June 7, 2007

A requirement in a retainer agreement compelling a client to pay 16 percent interest on unpaid fees is excessive and unenforceable, a Nassau County, N.Y., judge has ruled.

Instead, the client must pay interest on the unpaid fees at a rate of 9 percent, the amount of interest allowed by statute to be collected, both pre- and post-judgment, on amounts found collectible by courts, Nassau District Court Judge Gary F. Knobel ruled in Kutner v. Antonacci, 36363/06.

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entire article from law.com

July 24, 2007

Law.com - N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

Finds state failed to prove that ban on certain content advanced goal of protecting public from misleading ads

Anthony Lin
New York Law Journal (Read entire article)
July 24, 2007

A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional most of the sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising introduced earlier this year by the New York courts.

The restrictions, which went into effect Feb. 1, had barred lawyers from, among other practices, using nicknames that suggest an ability to obtain results or touting "characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence."

Alexander & Catalano, the Syracuse, N.Y., personal injury firm that challenged the constitutionality of the advertising restrictions, had previously run ads calling its lawyers "heavy hitters" and showing them towering over downtown office buildings or sprinting at impossible speeds to help clients.

The four presiding justices of New York's Appellate Division, who are charged with overseeing attorney discipline, first unveiled proposed restrictions on attorney advertising last June to address concern that outrageous and aggressive lawyer ads were misleading the public as well as harming the image of the profession.

But Northern District of New York Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled that the state had largely failed to show that its wholesale prohibitions of certain kinds of content had advanced its interest in protecting the public from misleading lawyer advertisements. Moreover, he said, the state had failed to show less onerous means could not achieve the same ends.

"Defendants have failed to produce any evidence that measures short of categorical bans would not have sufficed to remedy the perceived risks of such advertising being misleading," the judge wrote in Alexander & Catalano v. Cahill, 07 Civ. 117. "There is nothing in the record to suggest that a disclaimer would have been ineffective."

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Along with the bans on nicknames and nonlegal characteristics, prohibitions on active client testimonials, portrayals of judges and fictitious law firms and the use of Internet pop-up ads were also struck down as unconstitutional in Scullin's decision.

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