Ex-Lawyer for NY Attorney Watchdog Loses Suit Over Firing
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - October 30, 2009
Ms. Anderson had testified that her relationship with Ms. Cohen began to deteriorate in August 2005, when the two disagreed over the wording of a private admonition that both agreed should be given to a lawyer. Ms. Cohen wanted references that the attorney had made misrepresentations taken out. When Ms. Anderson refused, Ms. Cohen took the file and rewrote the recommendation, which had to be approved by the committee's policy committee. Prior to Ms. Cohen's revision, Ms. Anderson testified that she had objected that the report had been "whitewashed" and "sanitized" to affect the outcome of the case. As the relationship became increasingly tense, Ms. Anderson testified that she was fearful of Ms. Cohen and refused to meet with her alone. Ms. Wolfe meanwhile counseled Ms. Cohen to take notes of her contacts with Ms. Anderson and to have a second person in the room. Mr. Bellantoni described Ms. Wolfe's advice as designed to develop a paper trail to create a pretext for firing Ms. Anderson. Ms. Anderson testified that in fall 2006 she again clashed with Ms. Cohen over the handling of several other cases. In February 2007, Ms. Anderson stated, she had complained to Mr. Cahill that attorneys with political connections or ties to those on the 64-member disciplinary committee got preferential treatment. The same was true, she said, for lawyers who hired attorneys who had previously worked at the committee. However, Mr. Adlerstein in his closing dismissed claims that Ms. Anderson had complained directly to Mr. Cahill, saying she only had made "general statements" that lacked specifics. Referring to the fact that Mr. Cahill, a former Southern District U.S. attorney, denied that the February 2007 conversation ever took place, Mr. Adlerstein charged Ms. Anderson had made the conversation up "out of whole cloth." Ms. Anderson had "exaggerated" the incident with Ms. Cohen in her office in an effort to get rid of her as her supervisor, Mr. Adlerstein said. Mr. Bellantoni's partner, John Lovett, had delivered the opening statement for Ms. Anderson and handled much of the witness examinations. He was not in court yesterday due to a family medical emergency. Assistant Attorney General Wesley E. Bauman had delivered the opening statement for the four state defendants.