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Former Skadden Partner Disbarred for Child Pornography
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Edmund Duffy

Summary: A former Skadden Arps partner convicted of child pornography has been disbarred by the New York Appellate Division.

A former Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner was convicted of child pornography, resulting in an automatic disbarment by the New York Appellate Division, First Department. Edmund Duffy had practiced law for fifty years until it all came to an end. The attorney was disbarred Thursday a result of the conviction for charges of child pornography against him in July 2016.


Duffy had a successful career as an attorney, gaining prestige when he became the head of Skadden’s China practice, according to A 1994 book by Lincoln Caplan detailed the law firm’s success called, “Skadden: Power, Money and the Rise of a Legal Empire.” Duffy’s work in China was a big part of the firm’s growth.

Eventually, Duffy moved to an of counsel role at Skadden before retiring in early 2016. Just a few months later he was charged in Manhattan’s federal court with possession of child pornography after he participated in a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network that the FBI gained access to. The FBI alleged that Duffy possessed and accessed child pornography through his computer at his Manhattan Upper West Side home from 2011 and 2016. The images were of prepubescent minors shared through the P2P network. FBI special agents working undercover gained access to the network, monitoring its users and activity. This is where they found Duffy, who used the screen name “Daddisc.”

The authorities issued a search warrant of his residence in June 2016, where he admitted to the agents that he enjoyed “images and videos of adults and children between the ages of 10 and 14 being spanked.” They seized a laptop and portable flash drives from his apartment.

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Duffy was arrested on July 19, 2016, posting a $500,000 bond so he could be released on bail. He cooperated with federal prosecutors and U.S. attorney Catherine Geddes. He agreed to computer monitoring, mental health evaluations, no unsupervised contact with minors, searches of his phone, and travel restrictions. The then 75-year-old entered a not guilty plea January 2017, but soon after changed it to guilty.

Duffy was represented by John “Rusty” Wing, a criminal defense attorney and partner at Lankler Siffert & Wohl. Wing was also a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges for nearly three decades. Wing argued for the transcript of the sentencing hearing to be sealed, but was unsuccessful. He also argued for leniency because the child pornography images were less extreme and could be considered art in some places.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, a former partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, did not appreciate Wing’s arguments, stating that child pornography was just that, and severity did not matter.

Based on Duffy’s lack of a criminal record, no personal sexual contact with children, and no financial profit from the images he obtained online, Forrest did not sentence Duffy to prison time. She gave him five-years of probation, forfeit $256,000, 1,800 hours of community service for Stand for the Troops and other organization, a $9,000 restitution payment to the victims, and participation in a computer monitoring program. She said, “I will tell you that I believe in every other crime, child pornography crime like this that I had, even for possession, I have incarcerated every single other defendant. I will tell you that I find the description of the images that you were reviewing extremely disturbing … I am disturbed by this, but I am also not prepared to impose a sentence which I think might kill you.”

Forrest was taking into consideration Duffy’s age, cardiovascular and other health problems.

Do you think age and health should matter when someone breaks the law? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys accused of child pornography possession, read these articles:


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