In the Matter of Michael Joffe, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Michael Joffe, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Michael Joffe,
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 on
April 13, 1994.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Kevin M. Doyle, of counsel), for petitioner.
D. Weinstock, Esq. for respondent.
J. Gische, Justice Presiding, Richard T. Andrias, Cynthia S.
Kern, Jeffery K. Oing, Anil C. Singh, Justices.
Michael Joffe was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on April
13, 1994. At all times relevant to this proceeding,
respondent maintained an office for the practice of law
within the First Judicial Department.
2016, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) brought 10
charges against respondent alleging violations of New York
Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rules 1.1(a)
(failure to provide competent representation), 1.3(a)
(failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness),
1.3(b) (neglect), 1.16(e) (failure to take reasonable steps
to avoid foreseeable prejudice to client upon termination of
representation), 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation), 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to
the administration of justice), and 8.4(h) (other conduct
adversely reflecting on fitness as a lawyer).
charges stemmed from respondent's neglect of two
immigration matters, and his false statements and submission
of forged documents to the Committee during its
answer respondent admitted the material facts alleged by the
Committee, but neither admitted nor denied the charges and
"defer[red] to the Court to reach legal conclusions
regarding the [charges]."
referee held a hearing on the charges at which the Committee
called respondent's client, A.E., as a witness, and
introduced evidence relating to respondent's
representation of another client, A.A. Respondent testified
on his own behalf.
2009, respondent represented A.E., in her application for
removal of the conditional basis for her "Green
Card" and to obtain permanent resident status.
A.E.'s conditional permanent resident status was to
expire on September 7, 2009, and in fact did expire because
respondent failed to timely file an I-751 application. As a
result, in October 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) informed A.E. that her Green Card had been
canceled, and, thus, she became subject to deportation.
retained new counsel, G.S., who filed an I-751 application on
her behalf. However, it was rejected because respondent had
belatedly made such a filing on November 2, 2009 upon
learning that A.E.'s Green Card had been canceled. In
November 2009 and December 2010, G.S. requested that
respondent forward A.E.'s file to him, but respondent did
not turn over the file. G.S. eventually obtained A.E.'s
file from the Office of the Immigration Court.
March 2011, A.E. filed a complaint against respondent.
Respondent submitted an answer in which he falsely stated
that he had filed a timely I-751 application in June 2009,
but later found out it was rejected because an incorrect
filing fee was sent. Respondent adhered to these false
statements when he appeared before the Committee for an
examination under oath, and in an amended answer he submitted
shortly thereafter. At a subsequent deposition and at the
hearing, respondent admitted that he gave inaccurate
information to the Committee, but denied that his statements
were intentionally false and attributed them to mistaken
recollection and incorrect assumptions on his part.
offered three excuses for his failure to turn over A.E.'s
file to her new counsel: he claimed that the file was too
cumbersome to mail; the mail could not be trusted to deliver
it; and finally he admitted that he did not send the file
because it was easier to have it picked up so that he did not
have to go out of his way to the post office. Respondent