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In re Sison

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

March 29, 2018

In the Matter of Victor G. Sison, (admitted as Victor Garcia Sison), an attorney and counselo-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Victor G. Sison, Respondent.

Respondent, Victor G. Sison, 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 February 1, 1993.

          Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New York (Sean A. Brandveen, of counsel), for petitioner.

          Respondent pro se.

          Rosalyn H. Richter, Justice Presiding, Barbara R. Kapnick, Troy K. Webber, Jeffery K. Oing, Anil C. Singh, Justices.

          PER CURIAM

         Respondent Victor G. Sison was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on February 1, 1993, under the name Victor Garcia Sison. Respondent maintains a registered address in New Jersey where he is admitted to practice.

         Now, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) seeks an order, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(2) and the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.13 and the doctrine of reciprocal discipline, disciplining respondent predicated upon discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and directing him to demonstrate why discipline should not be imposed for the underlying misconduct, or, in the alternative, sanctioning respondent as this Court deems appropriate under the circumstances.

         Respondent was suspended for three months in New Jersey based upon misconduct committed while he was a part-time Municipal Court Judge in Jersey City (2004-2007) during which time he submitted parking and traffic tickets issued to him and members of his family to his judicial colleagues for improper adjudication.

         Respondent stipulated to facts relating to his involvement in ticket fixing. In 2005, respondent received a ticket for debris left at his law office in Jersey City. Respondent knew that he could not dismiss or adjudicate his own ticket so he brought it to his supervising judge. Respondent represented to New Jersey disciplinary authorities that the perception in the Jersey City Municipal Court was that you could not dismiss your own ticket but you could give it to another judge. The Judge adjudicated the ticket in chambers and respondent paid a $50 fine and $20 court costs. Respondent considered this adjudication to be a "test run" and assumed that other tickets could be handled in similar fashion.

         Respondent also presented parking tickets issued to him and his wife to his colleague (who shared law office space with respondent, did per diem work for him for which they were paid, and was listed as "of counsel"). The colleague adjudicated the matters, finding respondent and his wife guilty, waiving the $42 fine for both tickets, and imposing $30 in court costs notwithstanding that neither respondent nor his wife formally appeared in court, nor had they pled guilty by mail as provided for in the court rules. The $30 in assessed costs was paid to the court.

         Respondent also submitted a traffic ticket issued to his son in 2004 for failure to observe a traffic control device, a moving violation, to this same colleague who amended the ticket to delaying traffic, a no-point violation, and imposed a $25 fine and $25 in court costs. Respondent's son was found guilty of the amended offense notwithstanding he never formally appeared in the courtroom, but was standing outside in the hallway, and did not enter a guilty plea in a manner prescribed by the court rules. Further, no factual basis for the amended charge was placed on the record and neither the municipal prosecutor nor the police officer who issued the ticket were given notice or opportunity to be heard on the matter. The $50 fine was paid to the court.

         In 2007, in response to rumors of improper ticket handling respondent asked an administrative clerk about vacating the tickets adjudicated. Respondent asserted that he was prepared to pay the maximum fine for each of the tickets but the clerk informed him that a ticket could not be vacated once it was entered "in the system." At or around this time, respondent and others became the subjects of investigations conducted by the court system and the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

         On October 3, 2007, respondent voluntarily took an unpaid leave of absence from his judicial position. Thereafter, on or about October 7, 2007, respondent was criminally charged with official misconduct in violation of New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2C:30-2(a). On August 28, 2009, the court granted respondent's application for admission to New Jersey's Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program for a period of two years as a condition of which he admitted to his mishandling the traffic tickets at issue and agreed never to hold judicial office again in the future. Respondent successfully completed the PTI program and the charge against him was dismissed.

         In 2014, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) filed a formal disciplinary complaint against respondent charging him with violations of New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct (NJRPC) 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, specifically, official misconduct under N.J. Stat Ann 2C:30-2[a]) and NJRPC 8.4(d) (conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of ...

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