![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]>
Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Court of Appeals of New York
May 28, 1968, Argued ; June 14, 1968, Decided
No Number in Original
[*331] [**540] [***668] In this action for libel, the plaintiff, a member of the New York Bar, alleges in his complaint that the defendants falsely and maliciously charged him, in a letter addressed to the Grievance Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, with dishonesty and fraud. The defendants moved, pursuant to [****3] CPLR 3211 (subd. [a]), to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it fails to state a cause of action in that the letter to the Grievance Committee was absolutely privileged. The court at Special Term granted the motion, dismissing the complaint. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed the resulting order and granted leave to appeal to us.
There can, of course, be no doubt that ] statements made by counsel and parties in the course of "judicial proceedings" are privileged as long as such statements "are material and pertinent to the questions involved * * * irrespective of the motive" with which they are made. ( Marsh v. Ellsworth, 50 N. Y. 309, 311; Youmans v. Smith, 153 N. Y. 214, 219; see, also, Civil Rights Law, § 74, providing that no civil action may be maintained against any party for the [**541] publication of a fair and true report of a judicial or other official proceeding.) Petitions or complaints charging professional misconduct of an attorney which, in the past, were presented to the General Term of the Supreme Court (see Youmans v. Smith, 153 N. Y. 214, 215, supra) are now usually filed with the Grievance Committee of a bar association. [****4] (Judiciary Law, § 90, subd. 7; Rules of App. Div., 1st Dept., pt. 4, rule XII; Rules of App. [***669] Div., 2d Dept., pt. 3, rule XII; see Matter of Branch, 178 App. Div. 585, 588-589; Matter of Wyte, 231 App. Div. 539, 547; Sullivan v. Crisona, 54 Misc 2d 478.) And, it has been observed, a proceeding before such a committee constitutes a "judicial proceeding." ( Doe v. Rosenberry, 255 F. 2d 118, 120.) In the investigation of such [*332] complaints and in the conduct of such proceedings, then, the bar association's Grievance Committee acts as a quasi-judicial body and, as such, is an arm of the Appellate Division. Quite clearly, the filing of the complaint in the present case initiated a judicial proceeding.
It follows, therefore, that the defendants' letter to the Grievance Committee was absolutely privileged. (See, e.g., Sullivan v. Crisona, 54 Misc 2d 478, 481-482, supra; Robertson v. Industrial Ins. Co., 75 So. 2d 198 [Fla.]; Richeson v. Kessler, 73 Idaho 548, 551; Cowley v. Pulsifer, 137 Mass. 392, 393; Toft v. Ketchum, 18 N. J. 280, 285; McCurdy v. Hughes, 63 N. D. 435, 446; Ramstead [****5] v. Morgan, 219 Ore. 383, 387; Quarles v. Traders & Gen. Ins. Co., 340 S. W. 2d 545 [Tex. Civ. App.]; see, also, 3 Restatement, Torts, §§ 587, 588.)
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
22 N.Y.2d 330 *; 239 N.E.2d 540 **; 292 N.Y.S.2d 667 ***; 1968 N.Y. LEXIS 1242 ****
Ralph H. Wiener, Appellant, v. Melvin Weintraub et al., Respondents
Prior History: [****1] Wiener v. Weintraub, 29 A D 2d 739.
Appeal, by permission of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department, from an order of said court, entered January 29, 1968, which unanimously affirmed an order of the Supreme Court at Special Term (John P. Donohoe, J.), entered in Westchester County, dismissing the complaint.
Disposition: Order affirmed.
complaints, judicial proceedings, charges, absolutely privileged, grant a motion, malicious, libel
Legal Ethics, Sanctions, Disciplinary Proceedings, General Overview, Torts, Defenses, Privileges, Absolute Privileges, Hearings, Investigations