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An attorney reprimanded last year in New Jersey over a 1986 incident involving a 10-year-old girl that took place before he was admitted to the bar is subject to reciprocal discipline in New York, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court for the 1st Judicial Department ruled Thursday. The per curiam decision orders that Raymond H. Wong be publicly censured in New York. In 1994, Wong was charged in New Jersey with endangering the welfare of a child in an incident involving the sexual touching of the girl during a gymnastics practice in 1986, when he was a 30-year-old law student. After apologizing to the victim and later completing Morris County’s pretrial intervention program on Jan. 19, 1996, the criminal charge against him was dismissed. The New Jersey Supreme Court disciplined Wong in March 1999, approving an attorney oversight board’s recommendation that his intentional misconduct warranted a public reprimand. He was also ordered to perform 250 hours of community service not involving activities with children. The New Jersey Supreme Court said Wong had violated that state’s rules of professional conduct 8.4(b), criminal conduct that reflects adversely on an attorney’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness. Wong had argued that the New York court had no jurisdiction over his actions prior to being admitted to the New York bar. The First Department appeals panel said the New York judiciary had broad control over attorney conduct, and had the power to impose disciplinary sanctions on attorneys independent of statutory provisions, that by their terms, often apply only to attorneys already admitted to practice. “We find that respondent’s pre-admission conduct can, and in this situation, does constitute ‘misconduct’ under 22 NYCR 603.3(c)(3),” according to the opinion. Courts possess the power to discipline attorney conduct that is both in and out of their profession so as to ensure the public’s right to representation by attorneys who are worthy of trust, the opinion said. Wong, a civil court screening panel administrator for the New York County Democratic Committee judicial nominees, was admitted in New York in 1988 and in New Jersey in 1989. Jeremy S. Garber represented the First Department Disciplinary Committee. Bing Li, of Wong’s office, represented Wong. The First Department panel included Appellate Justices Peter Tom, Richard W. Wallach, Alfred D. Lerner, David B. Saxe and John T. Buckely.

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