Lawyer Discipline

Lawyer suspended for telling tenant he is worthless and should commit suicide

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Adam Leitman Bailey.

Updated: A prominent real estate lawyer in New York City has been suspended for four months, partly for telling a tenant in a recorded phone conversation that he would be reported to authorities and that “now you’re my bitch.”

The lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, also told the tenant he was worthless and should commit suicide, according to an April 2 decision by New York’s Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. Bailey is the founding owner of a real estate law firm that employs 26 lawyers.

The appeals court imposed the four-month suspension and directed Bailey to get counseling for up to a year, as determined by the New York City Bar Association. The New York Law Journal and the Legal Profession Blog noted the decision.

Bailey’s conversation with the tenant is one of two incidents cited in the decision imposing the suspension. In the other, Bailey barged into an arbitration, snapped photos and chastised a witness, the appeals court said.

Bailey contributed a “My Path to Law” column to the ABA Journal that was published in October. In it, he told of being bullied as a child and becoming “street smart” to survive. In law school, he said, he discovered he has “jungle street skills and a passion for justice.”

Bailey’s conflict with the tenant stemmed from what Bailey deemed to be defamatory website posts that allegedly accused Bailey’s client of overcharging tenants. Ironically, Bailey said in his “My Path to Law” column that his inspiration for becoming a lawyer involved the case of a newspaper editor who was acquitted of seditious libel.

Bailey sent a takedown letter to the tenant in September 2016 and followed up with a text when the tenant didn’t answer, according to the appeals court. The text said a lawsuit was being filed for millions of dollars and mentioned being in contact with police. “We have a copy of the complaint your ex-girlfriend filed against you and we will be using all means necessary to protect our clients,” the text said.

The same day Bailey sent the text, he also called the tenant, who recorded the conversation, the appeals court said. Bailey told the tenant he was “not that bright,” and he would “be bankrupt soon” if he didn’t take down the website. Bailey also told the tenant he should commit suicide.

“You’re one of those people in the world that really should just kill themselves because you’re worthless,” Bailey said.

While on the phone with the tenant, Bailey told a person in his office to “start the lawsuit. … I need him arrested. … I gotta get this guy.” Bailey proceeded to tell the tenant that his office was in contact with the district attorney.

“You have no idea what you stepped into,” Bailey told the tenant. “Welcome to my world. Now you’re my bitch.”

The other incident occurred in November 2016, the appeals court said. During an arbitration hearing in a conference room in Bailey’s law firm, Bailey barged in and began taking photos with his phone.

“This will be in the newspaper when I put this in there after we kick your asses,” Bailey said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves for kicking people out of a building and you have to live with yourself.”

Bailey had admitted the charges but contested whether some of the alleged conduct was intentional. His lawyer, Michael Ross, told the New York Law Journal that Bailey was sorry for his actions.

“Mr. Bailey is deeply apologetic for his unfortunate conduct in the matters that led to his suspension,” Ross told the publication in an email. “He has committed his entire life to advancing the interests of his clients and, unfortunately, he allowed his emotions to trump his good judgment in these matters. Mr. Bailey is thankful for the unwavering support of his family, his friends and his clients.”

Bailey’s suspension ended on Sept. 24, according to the website for New York state courts.

Updated on Sept. 30 to report that Bailey’s suspension has ended.

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