Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.
Decided on April 19, 2012
Peter Tom,Justice Presiding, David B. Saxe John W. Sweeny, Jr. Rosalyn H. Richter Sallie Manzanet-Daniels,Justices.
Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Andre R. Sobolevsky, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Fourth Judicial Department on February 22, 1985. Jorge Dopico, Chief Counsel, Departmental Disciplinary Committee, New York (Kevin M. Doyle, of counsel), for petitioner. Respondent pro se.
Respondent Andre R. Sobolevsky was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Fourth Judicial Department on February 22, 1985, under the name Andre Rafael Sobolevsky. At all times relevant to this proceeding, he maintained an office for the practice of law in the First Department.
The Departmental Disciplinary Committee ("DDC") now seeks an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.3, imposing reciprocal discipline on respondent based on an order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, dated July 8, 2011, publicly reprimanding him and suspending him from the practice of law for a period of two years. The Committee requests that this Court suspend respondent for two years, or impose whatever discipline it deems appropriate. Respondent, appearing pro se, consents to the imposition of reciprocal discipline.
The Second Circuit proceeding concerned charges that respondent: (1) submitted deficient briefs in seven immigration matters; (2) failed to comply with numerous scheduling orders, including failing to submit briefs in support of immigration petitions; and (3) filed with the Second Circuit petitions that involved immigration proceedings completed in other circuits. Respondent, pro se, submitted a response in June 2009, offering a variety of explanations for his lapses: a large influx in immigration petitions arising from family planning laws in China; the onset of glaucoma in 2008; his inability to bear the expense of filing briefs where clients had abandoned their cases; law office disruptions due to his moving his law office and problems with receiving mail; and procedural changes in the Second Circuit's management of its immigration docket.
When respondent informed the Second Circuit's Committee on Admissions and Grievances that he waived his right to appear at a hearing and did not intend to present witnesses on his behalf, but would rely on his July 2009 response, the Committee issued a report without holding a hearing, relying on court records and respondent's submissions. It concluded that respondent had submitted briefs of "shockingly poor quality," replete with defects such as incorrect clients' names, inclusion of irrelevant boilerplate, and reference to evidence that had not been submitted. It observed that respondent's explanation that he had relied on a paralegal for some of his work, and had filed that work without reviewing it, constituted an admission that he had aided the unauthorized practice of law in violation of DR 3-101(A) and failed to supervise non-lawyer staff acting at his direction, in violation of DR 1-104[C] and [D]. It found that respondent had neglected numerous matters in violation of DR 6-101(A)(3), resulting in the dismissal of seven petitions. It also found that most of his filing of petitions in the wrong circuit resulted from a failure to read the records and, in any event, showed a lack of respect for and lack of candor toward the court. The Committee on Admissions and Grievances recommended a two-year suspension, with respondent required to present evidence of attendance at CLE classes in brief-writing and law office management before being permitted to resume practice.
The Second Circuit adopted the Committee's recommendations, publicly reprimanding respondent and suspending him for two years, and imposing the recommended reinstatement requirements.
The rule regarding the imposition of reciprocal discipline, 22 NYCRR 603.3(c), provides that upon a showing of a foreign jurisdiction's imposition of a disciplinary sanction on a member of the bar, the only defenses that may be raised by the respondent are: (1) a lack of notice constituting a deprivation of due process, (2) an infirmity of the proof presented to the foreign jurisdiction, or (3) that the misconduct for which the attorney was disciplined in the foreign jurisdiction does not constitute misconduct in this state (see Matter of Hoffman, 34 AD3d 1 ). Not only does respondent decline to contest the application for reciprocal discipline, but review of the record establishes that respondent was afforded due process, that ...