Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent New York Appellate Court opinion suspending a lawyer for one your for creating a false posting and impersonating a woman on an internet dating website. The case is In the Matter of James E. O’Hare, 2013 NY Slip Opinion 05320 (NY 2nd App. July 17, 2013). The opinion is here: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_05320.htm.
According to the opinion, “the underlying facts, which are undisputed, are as follows: “(the lawyer), using the internet, went to a dating site for lesbians and created a sham posting by impersonating a woman whom he knew years ago; he used both his home and work computers for this activity. The respondent was aware that the sham posting would likely cause embarrassment to the woman, who was a mother of three. Based on the uncontroverted evidence and the respondent’s admissions, the Special Referee properly sustained the charge. Accordingly, the Grievance Committee’s motion to confirm the Special Referee’s report is granted.”
The opinion further states that: “(i)n mitigation, (the lawyer), who previously served in the United States Army Reserves and in active military service for a total of 28 years, introduced seven awards he received for meritorious service, including a Bronze Star for his services as a Staff Judge Advocate in Iraq. The (lawyer) testified that he was deeply ashamed of his behavior, which he acknowledged was ‘inexcusable.’ The respondent pointed out that the woman was not a client and suffered no bodily or financial harm. The respondent called a psychotherapist, who testified that the respondent suffered from an adjustment disorder, maladaptive at times. The psychotherapist opined that there was little likelihood of recurrence as the respondent had sought therapy and had since gained insight into his behavior. Finally, the respondent submitted several letters attesting to his good character and service in the military. The respondent has no prior disciplinary history.”
Bottom line: This opinion is just a bit bizarre and I would imagine that there is much more to it than the facts which are briefly summarized in the opinion. The lawyer called a psychotherapist, who testified that the respondent suffered from an “adjustment disorder, maladaptive at times” but opined that there was “little likelihood of recurrence as the respondent had sought therapy and had since gained insight into his behavior.”
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
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