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 October 11, 2012
Rolando T. Acosta,Justice Presiding, Dianne T. Renwick Leland G. DeGrasse Helen E. Freedman Rosalyn H. Richter,Justices.
Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary
Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Nikia L. Way,
was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial
Department on February 25, 2009. Jorge Dopico, Chief Counsel,
Departmental Disciplinary Committee, New York (Kathy Wu, of counsel),
for petitioner. No appearance for respondent. M-2830 (July 2, 2012
IN THE MATTER OF NIKIA L. WAY, AN ATTORNEY
Respondent Nikia L. Way was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on February 25, 2009. At all times relevant to this proceeding respondent has maintained businesses within the First Judicial Department. Respondent, pro se, has not appeared in this proceeding.
By notice of motion dated June 14, 2012, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee is seeking an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4(e)(1)(i) immediately suspending respondent from the practice of law until further order of this Court due to her failure to cooperate with the Committee's investigation of professional misconduct which threatens the public interest.
The Committee opened an investigation into respondent's professional conduct after receiving a letter dated October 19, 2011, from U.S. Southern District Judge Denise Cote. Judge Cote explained that respondent, who represented the plaintiff in Lonnie Phillips v Social Security Administration et al, 11 CV 83, had failed to respond to her chambers' repeated efforts to contact her, failed to attend a mediation session, and failed to appear for a pre-trial conference.
In a November 8, 2011 letter to the Committee, Julia Ford alleged that she retained respondent in August 2010 and, despite numerous attempts, she could not reach respondent. She believed respondent had abandoned her legal matter, particularly when she discovered that respondent's phone was disconnected and her office was closed. By letter dated November 21, 2011, Michelle Hacker made almost identical allegations as Julia Ford against respondent.
In November 2011, the Committee sent four separate letters to respondent regarding the complaints, requesting an answer from respondent within 20 days. All of these letters were mailed first class and returned to the Committee either "Attempted-Not Known" or "Not Deliverable as Addressed."
Eventually, on January 17, 2012, a Committee investigator spoke by telephone with respondent and she provided her home address in Brooklyn as her new mailing address. A letter was sent and respondent was given until February 27, 2012, to answer the complaints. Respondent failed to answer, and on March 5, 2012, another letter was sent, which also directed respondent to case law suspending attorneys ...