Friday, February 11, 2011

Attorney Dominic A. Barbara Is Suspended From The Practice Of Law By The Appellate Division, Second Department

Matter of Barbara
2011 NY Slip Op 01023
Decided on February 8, 2011
Appellate Division, Second Department

Per Curiam.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE DIVISION : SECOND JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P.
REINALDO E. RIVERA
MARK C. DILLON
THOMAS A. DICKERSON, JJ.

2009-10255

[*1]In the Matter of Dominic A. Barbara, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Dominick A. Barbara, respondent. (Attorney Registration No. 1487958)
DISCIPLINARY proceeding instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on February 24, 1971. By decision and order on application of this Court dated February 3, 2010, the Grievance Committee was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent and the issues raised were referred to the Honorable Michael F. Mullen, as Special Referee to hear and report.

Robert A. Green, Hauppauge, N.Y. (Michael Fuchs of counsel), for petitioner.

Moran Karamouzis LLP, Rockville Centre, N.Y. (Grace D. Moran of counsel), for respondent.

OPINION & ORDER

PER CURIAM.The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District (hereinafter the Grievance Committee) served the respondent with a petition dated November 17, 2009, containing five charges of professional misconduct. Charge five was withdrawn by the Grievance Committee following the hearing. After a preliminary conference on March 30, 2010, and a hearing on April 15, 2010, the Special Referee sustained the four remaining charges of professional misconduct. The Grievance Committee now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and impose such discipline as the Court deems just and proper. The respondent's counsel has submitted an affirmation in response seeking to disaffirm the Special Referee's report with respect to charge two and to afford appropriate weight to the evidence of mitigation.

Charge one alleges that the respondent failed to forward to his client in a domestic relations matter a written, itemized bill on a regular basis, at least every 60 days, in violation of 22 NYCRR 1400.2.

The respondent was retained by Louis Rubino on or about September 24, 2004, to represent him in a domestic relations matter pending in the Supreme Court, Suffolk County. The respondent received the sum of $40,000 for his representation of Mr. Rubino in that matter. Mr. Rubino discharged the respondent in or about May 2005. During his representation, the respondent [*2]failed to issue written, itemized bills for legal services to Mr. Rubino on a regular basis.

Charge two alleges that the respondent failed to adequately supervise the conduct of attorneys and non-attorneys in his law firm, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-104(c) and (d)(2) (22 NYCRR 1200.5[c], [d][2]) .

During the time in which he represented Mr. Rubino, the respondent was the only named partner in his firm and had supervisory authority over other lawyers and non-lawyers in the firm. Each attorney in the respondent's firm was responsible for maintaining time sheets on the matters to which they were assigned and for forwarding completed time sheets to the firm's bookkeeper to prepare billing statements. The bookkeeper was responsible for forwarding client billing statements to the individual attorneys responsible for the matter to review and approve. The attorney responsible for each matter was responsible for reviewing and approving the billing statement and returning it to the bookkeeper. After receiving the billing statement back from the attorney, the bookkeeper was responsible for forwarding it to the client.

In the exercise of reasonable management or supervisory authority, the respondent knew or should have known that the firm's procedures were not being followed by all attorneys and non-attorneys in the firm with respect to billing statements for Mr. Rubino.

Charge three alleges that the respondent failed to refund that portion of a legal fee paid in advance which had not been earned, after being discharged by the client, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 2-110(a)(3) (22 NYCRR 1200.15[a][3]).

On or about May 11, 2006, the respondent was retained to represent Laura Gunther in a matrimonial action and was paid a retainer in the sum of $10,000. Although Ms. Gunther made several requests for a return of the balance of the unused retainer, the respondent failed to comply. Thereafter, by letter dated July 30, 2007, the respondent and his associate, Cindy Prusinowski, were advised that Christopher Cassar was now representing Ms. Gunther. The letter stated that the matrimonial action had been discontinued, that the respondent's services were no longer needed, and requested a refund of the balance of the retainer in the sum of $7,482.50.

Although the respondent's firm received that letter, it failed to respond. A duplicate letter, marked "Second Request" and dated August 21, 2007, was mailed to the respondent and Ms. Prusinowski. Although that letter was also received, the respondent's firm failed to respond or to issue the requested refund.

By check dated April 3, 2008, the respondent's firm issued a refund to Ms. Gunther in the sum of $7,122.50, the balance of the retainer. During the period from May 11, 2006, through April 3, 2008, the respondent was the only named partner in his firm and was responsible for the conduct of attorneys and non-attorneys in the firm.

Charge four alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer by failing to adequately communicate with his client or her new counsel, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]), based on the factual allegations of charge three.

Based on the evidence adduced and the respondent's admissions, the Special Referee properly sustained the four remaining charges of the petition. Accordingly, the Grievance Committee's motion to confirm the Special Referee's report is granted.

In determining an appropriate measure of discipline to impose, the Grievance Committee takes note of the respondent's extensive disciplinary history. Between August 17, 1988, and October 1, 2009, the respondent received nine Letters of Caution, nine Admonitions, and two Advisements. Eight of those Admonitions were issued on December 7, 2007, for separate complaints. Some of these Grievance Committee-level sanctions were issued for professional misconduct identical to the charges in the instant proceeding. For example, six of the Admonitions were for inadequate supervision, and for failing to properly bill clients in domestic relations matters. One Admonition involved the respondent's failure to promptly refund a retainer balance. The respondent was also issued two Letters of Caution for failing to adequately cooperate with a client's replacement counsel.

The respondent attempts to mitigate his disciplinary history by noting that most of the complaints which led to an avalanche of Grievance Committee sanctions were caused by his health problems, compounded by the sabotage of his law practice by disloyal associates. The respondent contends that he had no opportunity to amend his office procedures following the Admonitions inasmuch as the other complaints, including those underlying this proceeding, were already filed. He [*3]proudly points out that in all his years of practice, he was only the subject of two malpractice claims which were dismissed in their early stages.

The respondent emphasizes the remedial efforts he has undertaken to improve his office, such as downsizing and hiring an administrative assistant, and the lack of substantial harm to clients. He asks the Court to take note of his commitment to rehabilitation and sobriety, his remorse, his complete cooperation, his strong public service record, and the character letters attesting to his integrity, competence, and dedication to his clients.

Balancing the respondent's disciplinary history with the remedial efforts undertaken and the mitigation proffered, the respondent is suspended from the practice of law for a period of 18 months.

MASTRO, J.P., RIVERA, DILLON and DICKERSON, JJ., concur.

ORDERED that the respondent, Dominic A. Barbara, is suspended from the practice of law for a period of 18 months commencing March 10, 2011, and continuing until further order of this Court; the respondent shall not apply for reinstatement earlier than March 9, 2012, and in such application, the respondent shall furnish satisfactory proof that during said period he (1) refrained from practicing or attempting to practice law, (2) fully complied with this opinion and order and with the terms and provisions of the written rules governing the conduct of disbarred, suspended, and resigned attorneys (see 22 NYCRR 691.10), (3) complied with the applicable continuing legal education requirements of 22 NYCRR 691.11(c)(2), and (4) otherwise properly conducted himself; and it is further,

ORDERED that pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90, during the period of suspension and until the further order of this Court, the respondent, Dominic A. Barbara, shall desist and refrain from (l) practicing law in any form, either as principal or agent, clerk, or employee of another, (2) appearing as an attorney or counselor-at-law before any court, Judge, Justice, board, commission, or other public authority, (3) giving to another an opinion as to the law or its application or any advice in relation thereto, and (4) holding himself out in any way as an attorney and counselor-at-law; and it is further,

ORDERED that if the respondent, Dominic A. Barbara, has been issued a secure pass by the Office of Court Administration, it shall be returned forthwith to the issuing agency and the respondent shall certify to the same in his affidavit of compliance pursuant to 22 NYCRR 691.10(f).

ENTER:

Matthew G. Kiernan
Clerk of the Court

Online lawyer rating for Dominic Barbara

32 comments:

  1. How does the court system let Dominic Barbara get away with all of his unprofessional conduct??? He should be disbarred, arrested, fined, and made to pay restitution and damages for his erroneous billings, and running the legal meter. He must have friends in very high places that allow him to get away with what he does, including false charges against his ex-wife for assault and battery, criminal contempt charges for which he should have been disbarred, yelling and screaming in the courtroom, walking around like he owns the place, and stating to his clients that "He will $UC& them to death in the courtroom" and "That he is above it all". Is there not any justice for this scoundrel?

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  2. Dominic has lied to the courts about lawyers in his firm dying and having to close his office to attend their funeral as an excuse to not appear in court! He continuously postpones depositions, court dates, turning over of documentation that the court has ordered, and then accuses the other parties of not being prepared. He talks down to the judges, administrators, other lawyers and no one is willing to put him in his place, for he is a disgrace to the legal profession. He shows up with 24 boxes of records for his clients case, but can not find a thing in them when asked to produce documentation. He is a master at deceit and deception and should be disbarred for his unprofessional behavior. He is only interested in lining his pockets with legal fees that he gets from his clients by running the legal billing meter. No one is his firm can take a shit in plain English, without Dominic calling the shots, so for him to say he was not aware of these miss billing issues is pure bullshit.

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  3. If this were any other person, he would have been disbarred, paid hefty fines, and made to pay restitution. He obviously gets "special treatment" from people in very high places to get away with all that he has over the years. It is about time someone enforces the law equally to everyone, including Dominic and serve him the justice that he is due, for all the injustice he has done to his clients, other lawyers, and defendants. His famous words when you challenge him and his actions, is that he will "SUE YOU FOR SLANDER" or "F$%K YOU TO DEATH"! He is an unprofessional lawyer with no conscience or morals.

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  4. Should lock the bastard up and throw the key away!

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  5. I agree he should be locked up and throw away the key. Also should make restitution for all his miss billing. And also pay restitution for pain and suffering he imposed on his clients and all that were involved in his long and drawn out cases. He should spend the remainder of his life in prison with no chance of parole.

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  6. This sleaze ball actually had the audacity to threaten to have my throat slit by contacts he knew from his criminal law practice. He did this immediately following an AA meeting(he is a percocet addict) because he caught his low life girl friend sleeping around on him. Beleive me, had I known that the tramp was sleeping with him I would never have touched her. I would rather follow Dennis Rodman. By the way, this gold digger was his divorce client at the time and she bragged that he gave her a special discount because she was so pretty(not). Another violation of the bar's code of ethics.

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  7. How about when one requests an unused portion, or the entire paid retainer back, AND THE LAWYER MAKES UP A BOGUS BILL? OR STATES: QUANTUM MERUIT!

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  8. Dominic Barbara has now retired, and closed his law practice, leaving all of his employees without a paycheck for monies owed, and he is refusing to return any retainers to his clients for monies he received from them. These monies should have been in a escrow account and not used by this bastard of a lawyer and scoundrel to pay his personnel expenses and fund his flamboyant lifestyle. The court has let him off lightly, and all the cases that his firm is handling are in legal cyberspace, and Dominic is running all the way to the bank with the money. This is not right!!!!!! Where is the justice in this matter?????? The courts need to do their job for a change and lock this bastard up, make him pay a large fine, disbar him, and make him pay back all the monies that he has wrongfully taken from his clients! Where is the JUSTICE??????????

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    Replies
    1. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM A FAT WOP ATTORNEY!

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  9. My divorce has been going on with Dominic's Law firm for almost 4 years and he has charged me over $125K in legal fees during this period of time. He has promised me the world and delivered nothing! He is handed me off to four lawyers inferior lawyers in his firm during this period of time. How do I get my money back, including the retainers I have paid him and all the over billing he has done????? There has to be some justice in this process! He has had and continues to have a license to STEAL!!!!

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  10. The judicial divorce system in New York States absolutely stinks. My divorce which involved Dominic Barbara's law firm has been going on for 4 years involving two older adults with no issues with children, etc. This case should have been resolved in one year, but we are on judge number four (4), trail date number (21) all of which have been marked final, and judges who arrive late; do not even come out of their chambers to try the case on the date of the trail; go out to lunch and then leave early and you wonder why the courts are so backed up and their is no resolution of the divorce cases????? Dominic used the courts incompetence to his advantage, and just churned legal matters and fees to the determinant of his clients and the defendants! THIS IS CRIMINAL AT BEST AND SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT THIS COURT SYSTEM!

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  11. The court system is dysfunctional. My divorce has been going on for 4 years and my daughters divorce went on for 5 years and was only finally resolved in that she settled out of court. The court system is a joke at best, with the judges not willing or capable of doing their job, and appear to bow to the politicians and likes of Dominic Barbara and just let him do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. If I behaved the way he did in a courtroom I would be found in contempt of court and arrested and fined! How and why did the judges allow him to get away with all his antics all this time???? He obviously knows and his influence with people in very high and influential places

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  12. This is a well known fact. The New York system is rotten to the core, courts are bailing whoever they feel like and not convicting certain individuals because they know them or they have some sort of higher status. I wonder what impact it would have to hire a private investigator new york city and find the skeletons in the court system's closet. What would happen then? Would they slip through the legal system as well?

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  13. So Barbara basically kept $47,000 that wasn't his, despite pleadings from his clients? Far as I know that's WAY about the threshold for Grand Larceny. So why isn't he going to prison for 5-10 years???

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  14. Hooray! Finally some justice!

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  15. I was preculded from my divorce trial i never had a chance my wife got my home of 16 years and one day to move out my wife was the unfaithful one all because simple discovery was not supplied too the court it took five years with no children involved how can all the swindeled clients get new trials

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  16. I blame domonic for all my losses his pratice was a 3 ring circus for not watching what his incompent staff was doing why is charles ferzola the person who was responseable for ruining my life not suspended as well if they did not have time for our cases why did they take them

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  17. The other lawyers in his office should be suspended also, for they knew full well what Dominic was up to and were lining their pockets also.

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  18. Dominic Barbara, like many others who have reached pinacles in thier profesion has fallen, due to the craziness of the people whom he represented. If they were sane individuals, and acted rationally to resolve their differences, they would not have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal seriveces. But like spoiled, wrotten, miserable children, they want to fault their actions on a titan of the matrimonial bar. Fair well Dominic, you will be missed. The rest of you cry babies, the pox on you. You got what you deserved.

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  19. what a ignorant statement you must be a relative

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  20. considering 99.9% of lawyers are total amoral bottom feeders - for this guy to have gotten busted...he makes the others look like alter boys (& girls). dominic is a con man. the courts are crooked. what a shame. what a joke.

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  21. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! My boat the USS Bababooey is on fire.

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  22. How can the NY State Court system not find Dominic guilty of grand larceny????? for what he has done! The Nassau DA is now investigating a number of complaints filed with their office by clients who where over-billed, undocumented billings, and retainers not returned. If you steal more than $25K, which he did, it is considered GRAND LARCENY, punishable by a large fine and jail time. What makes him so special to get just slapped on the hand and suspended??????? This is not justice! The courts, DA's office, judicial system are all corrupt and should be fired and placed in jail with him for their inaction's and not doing their job to protect the clients and public from such scondrels.

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  23. The Nassau DA's office has received numerous complaints regarding Dominic Barbara's over-billing, erroneous billings, and not returning retainers for the privilege of his legal services. They have not begun to prosecute Dominic on any criminal charges, even though the evidence is clear as day, and he has been guilty of screwing his clients and their spouses for hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars! The Nassau DA has referred the matter to the NY State Bar Association for review and action. This is a clear case of no one in the 'ALL BOYS CLUB' not wanting to hurt poor Dominic Barbara, as they are probably as guilty of similar actions, and allowing him to get away with what he has done for everyones benefit at the end of the day. IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL AT BEST, AND THEIR SHOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION BY THE US ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE OF THIS CORRUPTION, AND FAILURE TO PROSECUTE A CRIMINAL.

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  24. The Nassau DA, Kathleen Rice, should be ashamed of herself, for not launching a full scale investigation of the criminal charges filed by Dominic Barbara's clients against him. Her father Larry, went to jail for criminal acts for what he did to Nassau County in building the Nassau County Medical Center, and her brother was disbarred from being a lawyer. How does she get to where she is with a family history like this??????? Enough to make you sick! The NY State Court system and judicial system sucks at best!

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  25. Despite the FACT that this guy in an ass, he did not STEAL the money. His clients voluntarily handed it to him. As such, it is not grand larceny, petit larceny or anything else. The clients' remedy would be to file a civil law suit against him. This recurring conspiracy/boys club crap is absurd. IF the DAs office was actually notified they would have said it was a civil matter and their is nothing they can do. I don't like Barbera. Never did. That said, his actions are immoral, not criminal. Sorry. Oh, and to the dipshit that defended Barbera and blamed his clients . . . you're a bigger douche than the conspiracy theorists. Barbera was the wanker that caused the fights (in court and out) much more than his clients. We attorneys who had the bad luck to be in court with him know that all too well.

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  26. EW YORK STATE'S BIGGEST FILTHIEST DIRTIEST SECRET, IS NOW BECOMING A NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT. Judge Drager Seizes Money and Assets from Decent Hard-Working Women...

    Word has it that the Democrats in DC want Drager out!

    Not only will financial Restitution have to be made to countless litigants, but cases will have to be retried and a slew of corrupt parties will have to be arrested and tried.

    The pressure is mounting, because the litigants Judge Laura Drager raped are all over the country. No one has forgotten this sadistic Judicial Gun for Hire.

    Laura Drager is the Corrupt CEO of New York City's Divorce Company. She has turned Divorce Corruption into a Cottage Industry.

    Judge Laura Drager has turned divorce into a lucrative "bottom-line" business that has enriched her beyond her wildest dreams.

    Her strategy is simple; she usually discredits the female litigant by treating and labeling them as an acrimonious spoiled “crackpot” woman, and under that guise begins the seizure of their assets. If children are involved she has no qualms about using them as a pawn.

    This Judge deliberately overlooks Gun Violence to Children, Porn Sent to Children, Domestic Violence in lieu of enriching the New York City Power Broker. Go to Change.Org : Vote Judge Laura Drager Out!

    She has thrown women and kids out onto the street. She is New York City's "big money Judge". Your assets are her assets and she has become a very wealthy woman doing what she does.

    She has a powerful Public Relations Effort behind her that this Corrupt Judge also uses to discredit the litigant and submerge negative stories and internet content about her.

    Go to Change.Org . Hundreds Have Voted. Remove Judge Drager from the Bench
    www.change.org/petitions/the-nys-judicial-com ...
    Petition | The NYS Judicial Commission: Remove Judge Laura

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  27. All these crooked lawyers... Remind me of Marc Bernstein. He is now free from prison. And he be looking for more SICK and ELDERLY people to steal MALPRACTICE money from. Marc Bernstein, the guilty, convicted, imprisoned, crooked fraud MALPRACTICING "malpractice" "attorney" and a "predator with a law degree" is out of prison and has not paid restitution to his victims, defying a court order. Do not go to him. Marc Bernstein has stolen from grandmothers, disabled children, his own family, and as a rule the most vulnerable. Do NOOOOTTT go to this guy.

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