In the Matter of Simone R. Coley, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Simone R. Coley, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Simone R.
Coley, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a
Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the
First Judicial Department on May 10, 2004.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Kathy W. Parrino, of counsel), for petitioner.
Respondent pro se.
Rolando T. Acosta, Justice Presiding, Dianne T. Renwick Karla
Moskowitz Paul G. Feinman Ellen Gesmer, Justices.
Simone R. Coley was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the First Judicial Department on May 10,
2004. At all relevant times, respondent maintained a
registered address in Connecticut where she is also admitted
motion dated January 5, 2017, the Attorney Grievance
Committee (Committee) seeks an order, pursuant to the Rules
for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) §
1240.14(b), indefinitely suspending respondent on medical
grounds, as evidenced by an order dated June 16, 2016 issued
by the Connecticut Superior Court, placing respondent on
inactive status based upon its finding that she is
incapacitated from continuing to practice law. The
Committee's motion to indefinitely suspend respondent
until further order of this Court should be granted.
about May 31, 2016, the Connecticut Office of Chief
Disciplinary Counsel filed an application with the
Connecticut Superior Court requesting that an order be issued
against respondent for appropriate discipline or an order of
inactive status. That application alleged that respondent had
received $1, 750.00 from a client in connection with a 2014
uncontested divorce proceeding, that respondent failed to
initiate the divorce proceeding, and then failed to follow
through with an agreement to return the retainer to the
client. The Disciplinary Counsel sought an order of inactive
status based upon, inter alia, respondent's incapacity to
continue to practice law by reason of illness. After having
reviewed respondent's medical records, the Connecticut
Superior Court found her incapacitated from continuing to
practice law, and placed her on inactive status until further
order of the court.
light of the Connecticut court's order, the Committee
advised respondent by letter dated August 15, 2016 that she
was the subject of a sua sponte investigation concerning her
capacity to practice law in New York. The Committee requested
a written answer regarding this matter and advised respondent
that if she wished to assert her incapacity to practice law
in New York, she should provide her medical records
documenting such. The letter was sent by priority and
certified mail to the address listed on respondent's
notice of appearance in connection with the Connecticut
disciplinary proceeding dated June 6, 2016. According to the
USPS' website, the priority mailing was
"Delivered" on August 18, 2016, and the Committee
received back a signed return receipt for the certified
letter not appearing to bear respondent's signature.
letter dated September 8, 2016, the Committee again requested
respondent submit a written answer and advised her of the
possible consequences if she did not, including her interim
suspension. The letter was sent by the same method as before,
and according to the USPS' website, the priority mailing
was "Delivered" on September 10, 2016. The
Committee received back a signed return receipt not appearing
to bear either respondent's signature or that of the
signature on the first certified letter.
October 13, 2016, the Committee emailed a judicial subpoena
to the email address listed by respondent in her last
attorney registration in 2014, directing her to appear before
the Committee for an examination under oath on November 2,
2016. On October 26, 2016, the Committee retained a process
server in attempt to personally serve respondent. However,
when the process server went to the Bridgeport, CT address
given by respondent in the Connecticut disciplinary
proceeding, the apartment building's concierge told him
that the respondent and her mother had moved and that
respondent's new address was unknown.
the Bridgeport USPS confirmed on November 8, 2016, that the
Committee had the correct building address for respondent,
the process server returned to the building on December 7,
2016. While there, the concierge once again informed the
process server that the respondent no longer resided there,
but this time stated that the mother had switched apartments
in the building. When the concierge spoke with
respondent's mother, she reportedly stated that she would
not provide respondent's new address. To date, the
Committee has not received an answer from respondent, nor has
the Committee been able to obtain medical records directly
this Court has not reviewed respondent's medical
documentation, the Connecticut Superior Court's finding
of incapacity should be fully credited herein to protect the
public interest. The Connecticut court's order makes
clear that its determination that respondent is incapacitated
from continuing to practice law and to place her on inactive
status was based on its review of her medical records.
Therefore, we find it proper to reciprocally suspend
respondent based upon the Connecticut court's
determination and the circumstances surrounding this case
(see Matter of Grant, 263 A.D.2d 133');">263 A.D.2d 133 [1st Dept 1999]
[granting medical suspension based upon Connecticut
court's determination that attorney was incompetent to
stand trial]; see also Matter of Falls, 121 A.D.3d
83 [1st Dept 2014] [granting medical suspension based upon,
inter alia, letters from treating psychiatrist]).
the Committee's motion, to the extent that it seeks an
indefinite medical suspension under 22 NYCRR 1240.14(b),
should be granted, and respondent is suspended from the
practice of law, ...