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For Immediate Release
Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct Formed to Review Actions of New York State Ethics Committees
New Bar Oversight Committee Being Organized by the Litigation Recovery Trust and Integrity in the Courts and Expose Corrupt Courts Blog Organizations With Objective to Replace Existing Grievance Committee Structures
New York, New York. June 17, 2008. Litigation Recovery Trust, a New York based rights administration organization, and Integrity in the Courts and Expose Corrupt Courts, two Internet blogs focused on judicial and attorney disciplinary process and procedures, have announced joint plans to form an Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct (PCAC) to oversee the New York State Attorney Departmental Disciplinary Committees. The Ad Hoc bar oversight committee is being headquartered in New York City.
In announcing plans for the new oversight committee, William J. Hallenbeck, executive director of Litigation Recovery Trust, stated that this action was being taken as a direct result of the recent filing of a growing number of federal lawsuits against the statewide attorney grievance committees and their parent organization, New York State Office of Court Administration. Mr. Hallenbeck noted, “Clearly, as suits against the attorney disciplinary committees continue to be filed on a weekly basis, the time has come for a top to bottom review of the fatally flawed process by which attorneys in New York oversee the conduct of other attorneys. We must make sure that the public becomes the controlling part of the lawyer oversight process.”
Since late last year, over a dozen federal suits have been filed with the U.S. District Courts in New York by numerous plaintiffs, citing illegal actions on the part of the various statewide grievance committees (Anderson v. New York State 07 CV 9599) (SDNY). Some suits cite efforts designed to cover up misdeeds on the part of large New York law firms. Other allegations involve the issuing of rulings by the attorney disciplinary committees victimizing both clients and certain attorneys, usually from small firms and sole practitioners. One lawsuit has been brought by a former employee of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in Manhattan, which charges widespread corruption on the part of the committee, and seeks the appointment of a Federal monitor to supervise the operations of the organization. Subsequently filed lawsuits also seek the appointment of federal overseer.
Frank Brady, chairman of Integrity in the Courts, also issued the following statement: “On a daily basis, we report on outrageous conduct on the part of the grievance committees in New York State. Well documented complaints of malpractice, personal attacks and even theft, filed by individuals victimized by attorneys, are regularly disregarded and covered up by the ‘ethics’ committees. Other situations involve large law firms using the committees to threaten and harm other lawyers. In short, the attorney grievance review process is corrupt to the core, and in need of immediate replacement by a public review board. The establishment of the Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct is the first necessary step in such a replacement process. Legislative action is also being planned.”
Expose Corrupt Courts blog also issued the following statement: “The cumulative efforts of our organizations’ joint efforts recognize that the vast majority of judges are attorneys first, and accordingly, they must be included within this new ethics umbrella that’s being established."
According to the founding organizations, the Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct will include as members individuals, who through their personal and professional lives have established a reputation of responsibility and fairness. While attorneys will be available to the PCAC as advisers, all voting members issuing formal reports and decisions will be non attorneys.
In commenting on the structure of the ad hoc committee, Mr. Hallenbeck noted that this will be the first time in the United States that a review body made up entirely of non attorneys will be assembled to oversee the professional practices of lawyers. He added, “By initially establishing a parallel committee structure to the New York State grievance committees, we will have the opportunity to determine that a bar review process made up entirely of non attorneys can achieve the desired result. We should make it clear that our immediate goal here is to create a practical, working model to replace the attorney grievance committees.”
Mr. Hallenbeck also confirmed that efforts have begun to recruit members for an executive board to direct the operations of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as practice review and public affairs committees. Among those being sought as members are active and retired senior business executives, government officials, educators (primarily business faculty at colleges and universities, as well as law schools), business consultants and clergy, particularly with training in business ethics. Mr. Hallenbeck added, “We are in search of a committee to be made up of members with broad and diverse business experience and expertise, as well as impeccable records of fairness and sound judgment to review breaches of attorney ethics and rulings which can be classified as highly suspect.”
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For additional information please contact:
William J. Hollenbeck
Litigation Recovery Trust
515 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10022
Expose Corrupt Courts
About Litigation Recovery Trust
About Integrity in the Courts Blog
About Expose Corrupt Courts
Since beginning publication in March 2007, Expose Corrupt Courts has become one of the leading sources of both public and inside information concerning bench and bar misconduct. While the blog focuses primary attention on the court system of New York State, it regularly covers stories of interest throughout the U.S. Expose Corrupt Courts has led coverage of the massive corruption charges that have been filed against the attorney grievance committees in New York that have resulted in the filing of over a dozen law suits with the federal district court in Manhattan.