Just when you thought it couldn't get worse at the DDC, it does. Now, there is new and troubling revelations, bordering on the bizarre, from the Appellate Division, First Department, Departmental Disciplinary Committee (DDC) headed by Chief Counsel Thomas J. Cahill, Esq., and his right-hand whitewasher, Sherry K. Cohen.
In a complaint filed in 2004 against attorney Jeffrey A. Greenberg, Esq., the DDC permitted Mr. Greenberg’s attorney, Myron Beldock of Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, to submit the answer to the complaint “under seal” so that even the DDC investigator, investigating attorney and reviewing committee member would never read the purported responsive documents.
In an April 19, 2004 letter to DDC Chief Counsel Cahill, Mr. Beldock advises that he is enclosing an “answer” to the complaint, “which is 22 pages in length and attaches 27 exhibits, is provided in two forms: the first redacts all content after pg. 3; the second is a full text, with all exhibits, contained in a sealed envelope.”
In essence, attorney Beldock submits papers to Cahill and Cohen that cannot be read. And, apparently, that was just fine with Mr. Cahill and Ms. Cohen.
Indeed, in an accompanying letter the respondent, Jeffrey Greenberg, writes to the DDC investigator Joel Peterson, “I will respond in detail to each and every allegation of misconduct set forth in Mr. Galison’s complaint, and furnish backup documentation to evidence their lack of merit.”
Of course, Mr. Peterson could never read Mr. Greenberg’s detailed response (with “backup documentation”) because the material was either redacted or sealed.
Animal House on 2nd Floor at 61 Broadway - Double Secret Probation
Full disclosure to the Committee charged with upholding the ethical standards of the legal profession is necessary to protect both attorneys and public. Except, in New York where “who you know” will dictate what, if any, ethical standards will be enforced, or even reviewed. In fairness, it does save time. Why bother reviewing any documents if the determination of any complaint has been predetermined by Cahill and Cohen, especially after "the phone call" has been made.
Under the theory presented by Mr. Beldock, and accepted by Cahill and Cohen, a client could make a complaint against his former lawyer and prevent that attorney from defending him or herself by citing attorney-client confidentiality.
According to a former federal investigator familiar with the DDC, and who requested that his identity be withheld, “Cahill and Cohen know full well that the Disciplinary Committee can subpoena, and are entitled to review, absolutely anything and everything concerning the respondent-attorney and the complaint at issue.”
“Of course, any confidential information needed to conduct a comprehensive review- especially attorney-client material- would be withheld from the complainant- but not the DDC,” he adds, “The DDC is authorized- indeed, obligated- to review and consider all documents in its investigation of a complaint against an attorney.”
Washington, We Have a Problem
Thomas Cahill will be leaving the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in October and the name of his replacement will be made soon. It is common knowledge within state and federal circles that since he was told to retire, Mr. Cahill has been using the last few months cleaning up (read: destroying) files.
See for yourself, see the documents to the right, “Sealing the Truth.”