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Former Attorney Ethics Committee Member Suspended for Sexual Misconduct
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The focused client counseling methods of personal injury attorney Steven S. Greenberg, a former attorney ethics committee member of New York State received criticism and punishment from The Appellate Division, First Department, New York, on Tuesday. Greenberg received a nine-month suspension from the court though initially a hearing committee sought a three-month suspension, the court found the term to be too short for Greenberg to return to his senses.

The incident occurred in March 2007 when Greenberg was a member of the character and fitness committee for admission to the bar. He continued to serve in the same capacity judging the moral fitness of candidates seeking admission to the bar until an aggrieved client gathered enough courage to bring criminal charges against the pillar of legal ethics.

The court noted in writing that after closing the doors in his office, Greenberg had asked the aggrieved client, who had come to seek counsel from him over an accident, to reenact the accident. While she was demonstrating, the attorney ethics committee member put his hand underneath the client’s clothing and touched her breast. He also took her hand and moved it over his groin area on the outside of his clothing without her consent, and then warned her not to tell anyone.

  
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Greenberg was charged with misdemeanor in June 2007 but got away with a one-year conditional discharge. However, in June 2010, the Disciplinary Committee of the First Department asserted that Greenberg’s conduct adversely reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer. Though he admitted to the allegations, Greenberg argued that he suffered from periods of mental illness (during which his hands inspected various parts of clients’ anatomies of their own accord and without his control over the situation). Greenberg also argued that (until he had been discovered and brought before the court by the hateful woman) he had a long and honorable career as a lawyer and had paid damages to the client.

The court wrote that the respondent “failed to act in accordance with the high standards imposed upon members of the bar and his misconduct reflects adversely on his fitness as a lawyer and upon the legal profession.”

The case is Matter of Greenberg, No. 00278, Appellate Division, First Department, Supreme Court.

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Greenberg’s suspension would come into effect from April, 2012.





 

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