New York Copyright Lawyer Suspended Indefinitely From Practice

Nov. 4, 2021, 1:49 PM

A New York attorney who regularly represents artists in copyright litigation indefinitely lost his right to practice in the state because a federal court’s interim suspension applied reciprocally, a state appeals court said.

Richard Liebowitz had a fair and full opportunity to fight the disciplinary charges before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York imposed an interim suspension, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, said.

The federal court afforded Liebowitz due process by giving him notice of the sanctions proceeding, a statement of charges, and a chance to respond, the state court said. Liebowitz submitted a 27-page response to which he attached nearly 900 pages of exhibits, the state court said.

Although the sanction isn’t final, Liebowitz will have a full evidentiary hearing in the federal court before it imposes its final discipline, the court said.

The interim nature of the sanction, moreover, doesn’t prevent it from being applied reciprocally in the state, the state court said. State law doesn’t require a disciplinary order from another jurisdiction to be final before imposing reciprocal discipline, it said.

An immediate suspension of Liebowitz’s law license is warranted because his actions endangered his clients’ potential for recovery and added needless litigation expenses, the state court said. Liebowitz’s actions in the federal case included making multiple misrepresentations, defying the judge’s orders, and questioning the judge’s authority, it said.

Liebowitz’s argument that he has realized his “sloppiness” and “administrative failures” have caused harm and is attempting to rehabilitate himself “minimizes frequent behavior that made a mockery of orderly litigation processes,” the court said in announcing the state sanction.

The record supports the conclusion that Liebowitz’s conduct likely will be repeated, the court also said in Wednesday’s per curiam opinion issued by Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and Justices William F. Mastro, Mark C. Dillon, Cheryl E. Chambers, and Robert J. Miller.

Attorneys for the New York State Grievance Committee represent the committee. Michael S. Ross of New York, represents Liebowitz.

The case is Matter of Liebowitz, N.Y. App. Div., 2d Dep’t, No. 2021-00031, 11/3/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Anne Pazanowski in Washington at mpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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