Attorney suspended after domestic violence conviction

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department imposed a 36 month suspension of an attorney convicted in Virginia on charges of domestic violence.

The court cited mitigating factors:

In its report dated June 14, 2010, the Hearing Panel noted the following as factors tending to mitigate respondent’s culpability: (1) respondent’s long and exemplary work record and attestation to his good character from colleagues; (2) the connection of respondent’s misconduct to a dysfunctional marital relationship that is now coming to an end through divorce; (3) the initiation of the altercation by respondent’s wife; (4) the causal connection between respondent’s abusive conduct and his intermittent explosive syndrome, a recognized psychological condition for which he is being treated, and was being treated before the incident; (5) the confinement of respondent’s physical aggression to his personal life; and (6) the substantial criminal sanctions, including a period of imprisonment, that have already been imposed on respondent.


We find, in the exercise of our discretion, that respondent should be suspended for 36 months in view of the gravity of the offense of domestic violence and his prior history of similar misconduct. While respondent may not have engaged in physical aggression in his professional life, it cannot be overemphasized that his abuse of his spouse reflects adversely on his fitness to practice law.


(Comment: Since most batterers are physically aggressive only toward their victims, it is interesting that the court considered it a mitigating circumstances in this case.)