Legal Ethics

Bigamy brings six-month suspension for Manhattan lawyer

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A married Manhattan lawyer who married his mistress while they vacationed in Jamaica has been suspended from law practice for six months.

New York’s Appellate Division, First Division, suspended lawyer for Joseph Rosenzweig despite a lack of any disciplinary cases on point, report Reuters and the Legal Profession Blog.

Rosenzweig had told a Jamaican government official he was a bachelor before marrying the woman in an official marriage under Jamaican law. Rosenzweig maintained the woman understood the marriage was not a legal union and they had no plans to cohabit after the ceremony.

A referee had recommended a public censure for the bigamous marriage, noting that Rosenzweig had no prior history of discipline, he cooperated fully in the investigation, and he had a reputation for honesty and integrity. A hearing panel, however, recommended the suspension, noting that Rosenzweig was a part-time administrative law judge for the New York City Environmental Control Board.

The New York appellate opinion said the court had previously imposed suspensions for lawyers who misled government officials and courts, and the fact that Rosenzweig’s conduct involved his personal life did not warrant a lesser sanction.

Rosenzweig was in the news in 2009 when he sued to recover money he gave the mistress to help her buy a condo. He had maintained the money was a loan and she claimed it was a gift.

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