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Matter of Goner - 2017 NY Slip Op 09279, 157 A.D.3d 124, 66 N.Y.S.3d 140 (App. Div.)

Rule:

Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) provides that a lawyer shall not engage in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

Facts:

In disciplinary proceedings against an attorney under Rule 8.4 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), petitioner grievance committee filed a motion for an order to confirm a special referee’s report and to impose discipline upon respondent attorney Goner. The respondent, by counsel, submitted an affirmation in response in which he joined in the petitioner's motion to confirm, and requested the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department to conclude the matter by issuing a private reprimand, or a sanction no greater than a public censure.

Disciplinary proceedings arose from a charge alleging that Goner engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Rule 8.4 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), by virtue of his conviction on a guilty plea to one count of endangering the welfare of a child under Penal Law § 260.10 (1), a class A misdemeanor. Goner was sentenced to probation, with domestic violence conditions and alcohol therapy as a condition of probation. Goner was subject to orders of protection concerning his wife and daughters and payment of surcharges and fees. The court also considered as an aggravating factor a letter of caution issued in connection with his prior conviction of driving while intoxicated in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 (3), an unclassified misdemeanor.

Issue:

Did the Special Referee properly sustain the charge against Goner?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court found that the special referee properly sustained the charge against Goner, as the evidence established that Goner engaged in conduct in violation of Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), and granted the grievance committee's motion to confirm the special referee's report. The evidence showed that the attorney engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer based upon his conviction of the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child. Under the totality of the circumstances, including the mitigating factors that the attorney's conduct did not involve violence, his rehabilitative efforts, his completion of a group counseling program for domestic violence, and the affirmations attesting to his integrity and strong moral character, and the aggravating factor of a letter of caution issued in connection with his previous conviction of driving while intoxicated, the court ordered that the attorney be publicly censured.

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