In the Matter of Leslie Jones Thomas, (admitted as Leslie R. Jones), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Leslie Jones Thomas, (OCA Atty. Reg. No. 1984178) Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Leslie Jones
Thomas, 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 March 20, 1985.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Orlando Reyes, of counsel), for petitioner.
Diane McShea, Esq. for respondent.
L. Kahn, Justices.
Leslie Jones Thomas was admitted to the practice of law by
the Second Judicial Department on March 20, 1985, under the
name Leslie R. Jones. 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
nine charges against respondent alleging violations of
neglect, failure to promptly comply with a client's
reasonable requests for information, prohibition against
collecting a legal fee in a domestic relations matter absent
a written retainer agreement, failure to provide a Statement
of Client's Rights and Responsibilities in a domestic
relations matter, conduct prejudicial to the administration
of justice, and other conduct adversely reflecting on fitness
as a lawyer.
hearing before a Referee was commenced in January 2017, and
concluded in February 2017. By report dated April 5, 2017,
the Referee sustained charges one through three, dismissed
charges four through nine, and recommended that respondent be
publicly censured. The Committee argued that respondent
should receive no less than a public censure and respondent
urged an Admonition.
the Committee asks this Court, pursuant to 22 NYCRR
603.8-a(t)(4) and the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters
(22 NYCRR) 1240.8(b)(2), to affirm the Referee's findings
of fact and conclusions of law sustaining charges one through
three; disaffirm the Referee's findings of fact and
conclusions of law with respect to charges four, five and
nine and instead sustain these charges; and affirm the
Referee's sanction recommendation of a public censure.
cross motion, respondent opposes the Committee's motion
insofar as it seeks to have charges four, five and nine
sustained and requests this Court affirm the Referee's
liability findings in full, as well as his sanction
recommendation of a public censure, but disaffirm the
Referee's finding that respondent lacked remorse.
about June 1996, respondent was retained to represent
Jacqueline L., plaintiff spouse in a divorce action. In or
about February 1999, following an inquest, the parties agreed
to settle the matter. Respondent was directed to file the
necessary documents to finalize the divorce within three
weeks of February 26, 1999, but failed to do so. Fifteen
years later, in or about June 2014, Jacqueline L.'s
estranged husband, Charles C., contacted respondent to
inquire about the status of the divorce action. Respondent
advised Charles C. that she had to locate and review her file
in order to respond to his inquiry. Respondent admits that
she did not start looking for her file in earnest until in or
about January 2015, by which time Charles C. had filed a
disciplinary complaint against her. After ultimately finding
the file in her home, in or about November 2015, respondent
filed the necessary documents with the court and the divorce
was finalized in January 2016.
deposition before the Committee, respondent testified that
after drafting the divorce documents she had difficulty
finding her client. She acknowledged however, that it was her
fault that the necessary paperwork to finalize the divorce
was not filed in a timely manner. 
Referee found that prior to and after April 1, 2009,
respondent neglected a legal matter in violation of Code of
Professional Responsibility DR 6-101(a)(3) (22 NYCRR
1200.30[a]) and Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR
1200.00) rule 1.3(b) (charges one and three respectively) by
failing to complete Jacqueline L.'s and Charles C.'s
divorce matter in a timely manner. He also found
respondent's failure to meet her professional
responsibilities in connection with the divorce,
prior to April 1, 2009, violated former DR
1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a]) (conduct that adversely
reflects on fitness as a lawyer) and, therefore, sustained
charge two. Respondent does not contest these findings.
four alleged that respondent failed to respond in a timely
manner to the Committee's directives that she submit a
written answer to Charles C.'s complaint and provide
information related thereto in violation of rule 8.4(d).
Respondent received the complaint in January 2015 and after
several extensions submitted her answer in July 2015. She
delayed in providing the Committee with other information for
several months. The Referee took notice of the fact that much
of the delay was due to communication issues with
respondent's first attorney by virtue of his continuing
medical issues. He noted that respondent ultimately answered
Charles C.'s complaint and provided the required
information. The Referee found that her ...