The New York Post by LARRY CELONA and JENNIFER FERMINO - August 4, 2008
Two prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office have been suspended after an internal investigation showed they were never admitted to the New York State Bar, The Post has learned. Damani Sims and Charles Coleman both passed the grueling legal exam but didn't go through with the final step for bar admittance, a spokesman at the DA's office confirmed. Sims works in the rackets division, while Coleman was stationed in the gang unit after a stint as a grand-jury prosecutor.
Their status with the state bar will not jeopardize any of the cases they worked on, said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes. "It doesn't mean their cases are going to have to be reviewed," he said. "There's no law that says the defendant has the right to be prosecuted by a lawyer." Both of the lawyers will be welcomed back at their jobs when they clear up the necessary paperwork, he said. Sims started with the DA's office over a year ago, and Coleman began his career with them three years ago. They were hired under the condition that they needed to appear before the state bar's character and fitness committee - a standard practice for new lawyers. But neither of them made the routine appearance.
Hynes honored Coleman at the Law Enforcement Appreciation Awards last year for saving a man having a seizure at Modell's on Fulton Street. Coleman spotted the man beneath a sweatshirt rack and slid a ballpoint pen into his mouth to keep him from swallowing his own tongue. He could not be reached for comment yesterday. Sims, who went to Duke University and Brooklyn Law School, declined comment outside his Harlem apartment yesterday. In 1989, the Brooklyn DA's Office discovered one of their veteran prosecutors who'd handled hundreds of cases over 15 years had never passed the bar exam. Daniel Penofsky - who worked as an assistant at the city's Special Narcotics Office - was fired and ended up pleading guilty to practicing law without a license. The appeals court consistently upheld his convictions. email@example.com