Professional Discipline Committee Makes Recommendations

The New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Discipline has issued two letters, with regard to disclosure of retired lawyers’ addresses and the re-adoption of the use of Letters of Caution in the First Department.  The Committee wrote to Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau recommending that members of the New York Bar who have certified they are retired, as defined by court rule, be permitted to list either a Post Office Box or an active email address as an alternative to publicly disclosing their home address.  Currently, home addresses are listed on the Attorney Directory maintained by the Unified Court System if the lawyer does not list an address or the lawyer cannot be located at that address.  However, listing the home address of certain retired attorneys, such as former prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, may raise safety concerns.  The Committee recommends the alternative listing as a way to provide contact information for retired attorneys without compromising their safety.

The Committee also joined with the Professional Discipline Committee of the State Bar in a letter to John Dopico, Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, First Department, urging that the Department re-adopt Letters of Caution as a non-disciplinary measure for resolving disciplinary complaints.  Currently, the Department can either impose formal discipline or dismiss the complaint.  Letters of Caution, which are used in the three other New York Appellate Departments, provide a means of addressing attorney conduct which does not call for formal discipline but which raises a concern, such as an arguable violation of the advertising rules that does not threaten the public interest.  Use of a Letter of Caution would allow the Committee to “comment on the attorney’s actions and establish a clear record that the attorney was cautioned from engaging in conduct that might properly be viewed as improper under the rules.”