282 N.Y. 428, In re Grae

Citation:282 N.Y. 428
Party Name:In re Grae
Case Date:April 16, 1940
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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282 N.Y. 428

In the Matter of MICHAEL H. GRAE, an Attorney, Appellant. HAROLD M. KENNEDY, Respondent.

New York Court of Appeal

April 16, 1940

Argued March 4, 1940.

COUNSEL

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Stephen Callaghan and Ralph Stout for appellant. Appellant was justified in refusing to sign the waiver of immunity presented for his signature upon the investigation, and his refusal in good faith to sign such a waiver of immunity affords no basis for a disciplinary proceeding against him. (Matter of Palmieri, 221 N.Y. 611; Matter of Zanger, 266 N.Y. 165; Matter of Solovei, 250 A.D. 117; 276 N.Y. 647; Matter of Schneidkraut, 231 A.D. 109; Matter of Cohen, 115 A.D. 900; Matter of Kaffenburgh, 188 N.Y. 49; Matter of Rouss, 221 N.Y. 81; People ex rel. Karlin v. Culkin, 248 N.Y. 465; Matter of Eldridge, 82 N.Y. 161; People ex rel. Taylor v. Forbes, 143 N.Y. 219.)

Harold M. Kennedy, in person, Robert Abelow and Murray M. Halwer for respondent. Appellant endeavored to thwart and impede the investigation ordered by the Appellate Division and such action on his part was in bad faith. (Matter of Kaffenburgh, 188 N.Y. 49; Matter of Rouss, 221 N.Y. 81; Matter of Solovei, 250 A.D. 117; 276 N.Y. 647; Matter of Levy, 255 N.Y. 223; People ex rel. Karlin v. Culkin, 248 N.Y. 465; Matter of Fenn, 128 S.W. [2d] 657.)

LEWIS, J.

We review an order of the Appellate Division suspending the appellant from the practice of the law upon proof of a single charge that, upon an inquiry, ordered by that court, into certain alleged unlawful and unethical practices impairing the administration of justice, he refused to sign a waiver of immunity.

On June 8, 1938, the Appellate Division, second department, in response to a petition by the Richmond County Bar Association, ordered an inquiry '* * * into certain alleged unlawful and unethical practices impairing the due administration of justice, including the practice of so-called 'Ambulance Chasing' and the conduct of attorneys with reference thereto, the solicitation by attorneys or their agents of claims in condemnation proceedings and the prosecution of damage actions, and the solicitation by

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attorneys or their agents in criminal cases, including also, the state of calendars and the trial of causes in the County of Richmond.' It will be convenient to refer to the investigation thus ordered as the 'inquiry.'

In the course of proceedings which followed and on July 14, 1938, the appellant was called before a Special Term of the Supreme Court designated to conduct the inquiry, at which time he was asked whether he would be willing to waive immunity. Appellant replied that he did not intend to do so but that he was willing to answer all questions at the direction of the Presiding Justice and would bring to the hearings his office records and 'everything that the Court desires.' Then occurred the following colloquy between the special prosecutor and the appellant: 'Q. And you know, as a lawyer, that if that course is followed that you will have immunity from any prosecution? A. I do, yes. Q. And your purpose in refusing to waive immunity here is to secure that immunity, is that it? A. Well, I don't know how I can answer that question to you. I think I am entitled to my...

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