In the Matter of Scott A. Spencer, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Scott A. Spencer, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Scott A.
Spencer, 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 October 28, 2009.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Kevin M. Doyle, of counsel), for petitioner.
Respondent pro se.
Friedman, Justice Presiding, Rosalyn H. Richter David B. Saxe
Judith J. Gische Barbara R. Kapnick, Justices.
Scott A. Spencer was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on
October 28, 2009. At all times relevant to this proceeding,
respondent maintained a registered address within the First
November 2015, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, now
known as the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee),
received a complaint from respondent's former wife, in
which she alleged that respondent had failed to comply with a
final judgment of divorce issued by a Florida court which
directed him to, inter alia, pay her monthly alimony and
child support totaling $3, 750.
December 2015 and January 2016, the Committee sent respondent
a series of letters and emails requesting that he submit a
written answer to the complaint and include copies of his
most recent state and federal income tax returns. In February
2016, respondent, who claimed not to have received the
initial letters the Committee sent to his registered address,
submitted his answer in which he asserted that the Florida
judgment was not valid and enforceable against him because he
had never resided in Florida, nor had he been properly served
with process, and thus, the court lacked personal
jurisdiction over him, and that his ex-wife's complaint
involved legal issues, not disciplinary issues, more
appropriately addressed by a New York court.
March 3, 2016, respondent appeared before the Committee for
an examination under oath at which he testified, as relevant
herein, that he uses his OCA registered address only to
receive mail and does not have an actual office; in 2011 he
lost his job as an intellectual property attorney due, in
part, to downsizing as well as professional difficulties
which he attributed to marital discord; he has not been able
to find employment since then despite continuous efforts on
his part to do so; and he has not had a regular residence
since November 2015 because he can no longer afford to pay
rent and depends on friends to provide him with temporary,
rent free housing.
stated that before moving to Florida, the wife filed for
child support in New York (Westchester County) which the
court awarded in December 2011 ($117 per month). Also in
December 2011, respondent, with the assistance of pro bono
counsel, commenced a divorce action in Westchester County
seeking custody of his three children. However, the record is
unclear as to whether respondent pursued this action.
Respondent also testified that he had paid some child support
but had not done so since 2015 due to lapses in his income
and financial problems, namely, he had amassed significant
debt and owed back taxes.
April 4, 2016 email, respondent provided a supplemental
submission in which he asserted that, inter alia, he was not
bound by the Florida judgment and had not waived personal
jurisdiction, his Florida attorney had a conflict of
interest, and he challenged whether there was proper service
of process. Respondent's submission included a June 2014
motion for rehearing of his prior, unsuccessful motion to
dismiss the divorce action based on the alleged absence of
personal jurisdiction, which his counsel filed prior to
issuance of the final judgment of divorce directing him to
pay child support and alimony.
several emails sent back and forth, on June 22, 2016, the
Committee emailed a judicial subpoena to respondent which
directed him to appear for a second deposition on August 2,
2016 and to produce copies of all tax returns in his
possession. Although the Committee requested acknowledgment
of its email and subpoena, respondent did not do so. After
three unsuccessful attempts by the Committee's process
server to serve the subpoena on June 29, July 7 and 8, the
Committee served respondent on July 22, 2016, at the
residential address he provided at his March 3, 2016
deposition, pursuant to CPLR 308(4).
August 1, 2016 email, the Committee requested respondent to
bring his copies of the previously marked exhibits to his
deposition scheduled for the next day. Respondent did not
appear on August 2, 2016 as directed, nor did he contact the
Committee to request an adjournment. By an August 2, 2016
email, the Committee requested respondent to explain his
failure to appear or it would be forced to move for his
interim suspension. Respondent did not reply to this email.
letter dated August 5, 2016, the Committee again requested
respondent to explain his failure to appear on August 2, 2016
and to immediately contact the Committee to reschedule his
deposition, and informed him that his failure to do so could
result in his interim suspension based on failure to
cooperate with a disciplinary investigation. This letter was
sent to the residential address respondent provided at his
March 2016 deposition and to his registered mailing address.
The Committee advises that the certified mailing sent to
respondent's residential address was ...