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Legal Ethics

Administrator to Seek Surrogate Judge’s Removal, Due to His Handling of Lawyer’s Excessive Billing

Posted Jul 24, 2012 3:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An administrator for a panel hearing an ethics case against a New York City judge announced Monday that it will recommend Bronx Surrogate Judge Lee Holzman be removed due to the manner in which he handled a lawyer's excessive billing issues.

In a report last week, a hearing referee found that Holzman should have fired the attorney, who worked for the Bronx public administrator, rather than simply arranging a repayment plan. Now an administrator for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct says he will recommend Holzman's removal at an upcoming September hearing, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

The ethics matter is public because Holzman, who oversees probate matters concerning those who die without wills, and has served in his position since 1988, waived confidentiality. His lawyer has argued that Holzman acted decisively when he learned of excessive fees being charged to estates by attorney Michael Lippman and said the judge is being held to an unduly strict standard.

Although the referee, State Supreme Court Justice Felice K. Shea, determined that Holzman should have fired Lippman and referred the excessive fees issue for possible prosecution, he found the commission didn't prove other misconduct charges against the judge.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Ethics Complaint Accuses NY Judge of Approving Fees for Lawyer Pal Based on Boilerplate Affidavits"

ABAJournal.com: "In Unusual Public Testimony, NY Probate Judge Defends His Handling of Attorney Overbilling Issue"

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