In the Matter of Aaron D. Frishberg, (admitted as Aaron David Frishberg), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Aaron D. Frishberg, Respondent.
Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance
Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent,
Aaron D. Frishberg, 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 4, 1987.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Norma I. Melendez, of counsel), for petitioner.
S. Hinds, Esq. for respondent.
Friedman, Justice Presiding, Dianne T. Renwick Richard T.
Andrias Anil C. Singh Peter H. Moulton, Justices.
Aaron D. Frishberg was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the First Judicial Department on May 4,
1987, under the name Aaron David Frishberg. At all times
relevant to this proceeding, respondent maintained an office
for the practice of law within the First Department.
2016, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) brought
six charges against respondent. In January 2017, respondent
stipulated to four of the six charges, admitting that by
failing to comply with three deadlines for perfecting an
appeal he: failed to provide competent representation in
violation of New York Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) (22
NYCRR 1200.0) rules 1.1(a); failed to act with reasonable
diligence and promptness in representing a client in
violation of 1.3(a); neglected a legal matter entrusted to
him in violation of 1.3(b); and engaged in other conduct that
adversely reflects on fitness as a lawyer in violation of
8.4(h). Respondent denied that he failed to keep a client
reasonably informed about the status of his case in violation
of RPC rule 1.4(a)(3) and failed to promptly comply with a
client's reasonable requests for information in violation
of rule 1.4(a)(4).
Committee seeks an order, pursuant to Judiciary Law §
90(2) and the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22
NYCRR0 § 1240.8(b) and the Rules pf the Appellate
Division, First Department (22 NYCRR) 603.8-a(t)(4),
affirming the Referee's liability findings and suspending
respondent for no less than one year. For the reasons
explained below, we now affirm the Referee's report to
the extent of the liability findings and agree with the
Referee that respondent should be suspended from the practice
of law, but we impose a six-month suspension.
aforementioned disciplinary charges stem from
respondent's handling of the case of his client, LL a
35-year old college graduate. On May 8, 2006, LL retained
respondent to represent him in connection with a tort/civil
rights action. LL alleged that on May 27, 2005 his sister and
members of the New York City Police Department engineered his
seven-day long psychiatric commitment and detention when he
was not a danger to himself or others.
regard to these allegations, in May 2006, respondent
commenced an action in Supreme Court, New York County, which
the court eventually dismissed as untimely commenced.
Subsequently, in January 2009, respondent commenced a federal
action, based on the same allegations, against the same
defendants in the Southern District alleging, inter alia,
civil rights violations under 42 USC § 1983 and related
state law claims. On February 16, 2010, the district court
dismissed LL's federal claims as time-barred and declined
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
claims, which were also dismissed. In 2010, LL filed a
disciplinary complaint and in October 2011, the Committee
issued an Admonition to respondent based on his neglect of
LL's state and federal court actions.
September 2011, respondent filed a notice of appeal from the
Supreme Court's judgment dismissing LL's action. The
time to perfect the appeal was June 22, 2012 but respondent
failed to do so. Three months later, respondent moved this
Court for an enlargement of time within which to perfect the
appeal. Defendants cross-moved for dismissal of the appeal
based on LL's failure to perfect in a timely manner. This
Court granted respondent an extension to the February 2013
Term (filing deadline of December 3, 2012) and the cross
motion was granted unless the appeal was perfected for
respondent failed to meet the December 2012 filing deadline,
defendants moved to dismiss the appeal. On the return date of
the motion, respondent belatedly served a motion for an order
granting a nunc pro tunc extension for the filing of the
appellant's brief and appendix. This Court granted
respondent's motion to the extent of enlarging the time
to perfect to March 18, 2013 for the June 2013 term
"with no further enlargements" and granted the
motion to dismiss unless the appeal was perfected. Again,
respondent failed to perfect the appeal, nor did he seek a
January 2013, LL filed a second complaint with the Committee
alleging that respondent had not been responsive to his
requests for information about his appeal. Respondent denied
LL's allegations and claimed that he had made extensive
revisions to the brief and appendix and successfully filed
them with the Court. A year later, on January 6, 2014, 10
months after the March 18, 2013 final filing deadline
expired, respondent filed a motion to reinstate LL's
appeal and for leave to perfect an untimely appeal.
Defendants cross moved to dismiss the appeal with prejudice.
By order of March 25, 2014, this Court denied
respondent's motion (which was deemed a motion to enlarge
the time to perfect the appeal) and granted defendants'
cross motion and dismissed LL's appeal.
to LL, after respondent was admonished in 2011 for neglecting
his case at the trial level, respondent's responsiveness
to his telephone calls improved for a time, but after
respondent filed the notice of appeal in September 2011,
there were long periods in 2012 and 2013 when respondent was
not responsive. After he filed his second complaint against
respondent in January 2013, LL went to the court and ...