Legal Ethics

Lawyer Who Tried to Bribe Cop with Personal Check Had Impaired Judgment, Is Censured, Not Suspended


A New York lawyer apparently had a few too many when he went to lunch with friends one day, then hit a telephone pole as he attempted to drive home. After being arrested and taken to a police station, he tried to bribe a cop with a $2,000 personal check, for which he was eventually convicted of giving unlawful gratuities to a police officer in addition to aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Unni Krishnan testified in a subsequent attorney disciplinary proceeding that he drank heavily at lunch and had no recollection of offering the cop a bribe. And, a hearing panel noted, “We cannot help but observe that an attorney who would offer to bribe a police officer by means of a personal check would have to have had his judgment impaired by something,” recounts the Appellate Division, First Department, of the New York Supreme Court in a Tuesday opinion.

The Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, which initiated the case against Krishnan after his convictions in the misdemeanor case, initially sought a six-month suspension. But Krishnan argued that he should simply be censured and the hearing panel agreed, calling the bribe offer serious misconduct that was nonetheless “a single aberrational act” on the attorney’s part that had nothing to do with his practice of law and was unlikely to be repeated.

The committee then asked the Appellate Division to impose whatever punishment it deemed just and proper and confirm the hearing panel’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the Appellate Division unanimously opted for the censure.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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