Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SASSOWER v. MANGANO

May 21, 1996

DORIS L. SASSOWER, Plaintiff, against Hon. GUY MANGANO, PRESIDING JUSTICE OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, and the ASSOCIATE JUSTICES THEREOF, GARY CASELLA and EDWARD SUMBER, Chief Counsel and Chairman, respectively, of the GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE FOR THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE FOR THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, Does 1-20, being present members thereof, MAX GALFUNT, being a Special Referee, and G. OLIVER KOPPELL, Attorney General of the State of New York, all in their official and personal capacities, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPRIZZO

 SPRIZZO, D.J.:

 Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff Doris L. Sassower, appearing pro se, brings the instant action against defendants Honorable Guy Mangano, Gary Casella, Edward Sumber, Max Galfunt, former New York State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell, and the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District and its members (collectively "defendants") arising out of state disciplinary proceedings which resulted in the suspension of her license to practice law. Sassower claims, inter alia, that defendants deprived her of her right to due process by conspiring to suspend her license to practice law without granting a hearing thereon. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (c), defendants move for judgment on the pleadings on the grounds that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and Sassower's claims are barred by res judicata, absolute immunity, and the Eleventh Amendment. Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c), 12(d), and 56(c), Sassower cross-moves for a preliminary injunction and for summary judgment.

 BACKGROUND

 Pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(2), defendant Appellate Division, Second Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (the "Second Department") is authorized to discipline members of the New York State bar within the Second Department. Complaint ("Compl.") P 19. At all relevant times, defendant Honorable Guy Mangano served as the presiding justice of the Second Department. Id. P 19. Pursuant to N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.4(a), the Second Department appointed defendant Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District (the "Grievance Committee") to investigate and prosecute matters involving attorney misconduct in the Ninth Judicial District. Id. PP 20, 21. Defendants Gary Casella and Edward Sumber serve as Chief Counsel and Chairman, respectively, of the Grievance Committee. Id. PP 21, 22. Defendant Max Galfunt is a special referee appointed by the Second Department to hear disciplinary matters prosecuted by the Grievance Committee. Id. P 23. At all relevant times, defendant G. Oliver Koppell was the Attorney General of the State of New York. Id. P 24.

 Pursuant to N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.4(c), the Grievance Committee may commence an investigation of professional misconduct against an attorney sua sponte or upon receipt of a complaint by the Second Department or by any other such committee. See N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.4(c). After a preliminary investigation and upon a majority vote of its full membership, the Grievance Committee may 1) dismiss the complaint, 2) conclude the matter by issuing a letter of caution to the attorney, 3) conclude the matter by privately admonishing the attorney, 4) serve written charges upon the attorney and hold a hearing on the matter, or 5) recommend to the Second Department that disciplinary proceedings be instituted. See N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.4(e).

 In 1955, plaintiff Doris L. Sassower was admitted to the bar of the State of New York. In 1987 and 1988, two former clients of Sassower filed complaints with the Grievance Committee against her relating to fee disputes. Compl. P 42. On July 31, 1989, the Grievance Committee filed a report with the Second Department in relation thereto. Id. PP 41, 42. On December 14, 1989, the Second Department authorized the prosecution of a disciplinary proceeding against Sassower. Id. P 55. On February 6, 1990, the Grievance Committee issued a disciplinary petition against Sassower (the "February 1990 petition"). Id. P 59. On February 8, 1990, Sassower was served with notice of the February 1990 petition. Id.

 On May 8, 1990, pursuant to N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.13(b)(1), the Grievance Committee filed an order to show cause with the Second Department seeking a court-ordered medical examination of Sassower to determine whether she was mentally incapable of practicing law. Compl. P 66. On October 18, 1990, the Second Department granted the motion directing Sassower to be examined by a qualified medical expert. Id. P 93. Sassower refused to comply with the October 18, 1990 order. Id.

 On January 25, 1991, the Grievance Committee filed an order to show cause with the Second Department seeking the immediate suspension of Sassower's license to practice law for her failure to comply with the October 18, 1990 order. Compl. PP 85, 93. By order dated June 14, 1991, pursuant to N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.13(b)(1), the Second Department granted the Grievance Committee's motion, thereby suspending Sassower's license to practice law pending her compliance with the October 18, 1990 order (the "June 1991 suspension order"). Id. Thereafter, Sassower moved by order to show cause for vacatur or modification of the Second Department's June 1991 suspension order and for a temporary restraining order on the ground that the suspension of her license was "unauthorized and excessive punishment for her attorney's legitimate legal challenge to [the] October 18, 1990 Order." Id. PP 97, 98. On July 15, 1991, the Second Department denied Sassower's motion. Id. P 98.

 By motion dated July 19, 1991, Sassower moved for leave to appeal, inter alia, from the June 1991 suspension order to the New York State Court of Appeals (the "Court of Appeals") on the grounds that the Second Department had failed to comply with the requirements of N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, § 691.4 and related case law, thereby depriving her of her constitutional right to due process. Compl. P 107. On September 10, 1991, the Court of Appeals denied Sassower's motion for leave to appeal. Id. P 117.

 On April 9, 1992, the Grievance Committee issued sua sponte a supplemental petition against Sassower alleging professional misconduct in two previous cases (the "April 1992 supplemental petition"). Compl. P 127.

 On June 16, 1992, Sassower again moved to vacate the June 1991 suspension order on the ground that a recent decision, In re Russakoff, 79 N.Y.2d 520, 583 N.Y.S.2d 949, 593 N.E.2d 1357 (1992), required that the Second Department hold a post-suspension hearing and make factual findings on the record. Compl. P 134. By motion dated June 18, 1992, Sassower moved the Second Department to dismiss the April 1992 supplemental petition, as well as the February 1990 petition, on the ground that both failed to comply with the provisions of Judiciary Law § 90 and N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 22, §§ 691.4(e)(4), (f), and (h). Id. P 135. On July 31, 1992, the Second Department denied Sassower's motion to vacate the June 1991 suspension order and all other relief requested by Sassower. Id. P 143.

 Thereafter, Sassower moved to appeal as of right to the Court of Appeals the June 1991 suspension order on the ground that her constitutional right to equal protection had been denied. Compl. P 144. By order dated November 18, 1992, the Court of Appeals dismissed Sassower's appeal for lack of finality. Id. P 145.

 On January 28, 1993, the Grievance Committee issued a second disciplinary petition against Sassower arising from five charges filed sua sponte by the Grievance Committee (the "January 1993 petition"). Compl. PP 151, 153. Between January 28, 1993 and February 22, 1993, Sassower was served with notice of the January 1993 petition. Id. P 155. On February 22, 1993, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.