gavel

A veteran New York lawyer has been suspended from practicing law after a state appeals court unanimously found that his “derogatory, undignified and inexcusable” written comments about both trial and appellate judges showed “flagrant disrespect for the judiciary.”

In a forceful opinion, the Appellate Division, First Department panel pointed to multiple “examples” of arguments made in court papers over the years by lawyer Gino Giorgini, including his capitalized diatribe about factual case-findings made in 2005 by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Whelan.

“WHERE DID THE COURT GET THIS? THIS IS STATED NO WHERE IN [plaintiff's expert’s] REPORT. LA LA LAND, I COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP IF I TRIED,” the panel quotes Giorgini as having written to Whelan in an affirmation he submitted in support of a motion to reargue his client’s case.

Giorgini is further quoted as having told Whelan, “THIS IS LA LA LAND ON STEROIDS…. I CAN NOT COMPREHEND THE #%*%#$^%* THAT IS THIS DECISION…. This is so bizzaro land that it is hard to type. What is even more pathetic is the case I cited (citation omitted) has been ignored.”

The panel suspended Giorgini for three months, while upholding all six Attorney Grievance Committee charges brought against him in 2015. A referee had previously dismissed three of the charges—those pertaining to the 2005 affirmation Giorgini had submitted to Whelan—but the panel found that each Code of Professional Responsibility charge had been “established by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence and should be sustained.”

The First Department’s Attorney Grievance Committee had asked for a six-month suspension of Giorgini, rather than three.

At the same time, though, a referee who’d earlier assessed the charges against Giorgini had recommended a sanction of public censure. Suspension of a New York attorney’s law license is generally considered to be a greater punishment than public censure.

Reached on Wednesday, Giorgini declined to comment by phone. He instead offered to meet with the Law Journal in person to discuss his case in more detail, and claimed that his case had been wrongly affected by the corrupt actions of public officials.

The panel wrote that Giorgini, who practices out of the Law Offices of Gino L. Giorgini III in Deer Park, in Suffolk County, had shown “a fundamental disregard for the judicial process which he has been sworn to uphold.”

“Far from expressing genuine remorse for his disrespectful conduct, respondent [Giorgini] has consistently sought to justify his improper conduct by blaming the Justices before whom he was trying cases,” Justices David Friedman, Rosalyn Richter, Richard Andrias, Barbara Kapnick and Troy Webber wrote in their unsigned opinion.

The panel further pointed out that Giorgini had accused both the Suffolk County Supreme Court and the Appellate Division of corruption, when in 2008 he lobbied for re-argument in a case in which a plaintiff had sued to block termination of a commercial lease.

Laying out three lengthy, quoted paragraphs in the center of its opinion, the panel appeared to be using Giorgini’s own amped and targeted language against him.

“Nice Joke. DISGUSTING. . . . . Can anyone say hello Department of Justice, where is someone suppose to turn when plaintiff’s counsel openly puts forth that the court is on their side?” Giorgini is quoted, in part, as writing in the 2008 affirmation.

The lawyer is further quoted as having written in the affirmation, “And this was clearly stated in defendant’s papers. No sense appealing it, the attached Newsday article has [an] Appellate Judge [] hoping he is granted a meeting with the party leaders’ so that he can be placed on the ballot to save his job. I’m sure we will get the same fair treatment there as well as with a party leader on the opposing side. Every judge in Suffolk County should recuse them self after that article from this case. No way to argue no bias.”

In the same case, he’s also quoted as having written, in part, ”This is outrageous!!!!!!! How dare this court disrespect my elderly client for the benefit of some political contributors. I guess my reply/sur-reply was not read. I pointed this out in my first paragraphs Let me see … perjury… no problem … fraud … no problem …. what a joke.”

The justices said that Giorgini was trying to “demean” the court in the case.

Speaking generally of his multiple written comments before the panel, the justices said the comments “went beyond the bounds of zealous advocacy and were derogatory, undignified and inexcusable.”

Still, the panel also noted in Matter of Giorgini that in the case before Whelan from 2005, the justice had granted re-argument to Giorgini’s client and reinstated the client’s complaint.

But the panel said Whelan had also “strongly criticized” Giorgini’s “’vituperative criticism directed toward this court,’” and threatened the lawyer with sanctions or a Grievance Committee referral if the behavior continued.

In the 2008 affirmation instance, which was the basis for three of the charges against Giorgini, the panel wrote that Supreme Court Justice Arthur Pitts had recused himself and assigned the matter to Justice Ralph Costello, who denied Georgina’s re-argument motion.

The charges against Giorgini included DR 7-106(c)(6) (22 NYCRR 1200.37(c)(6)) (undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to a tribunal), DR 1-102(a)(5) (22 NYCRR 1200.2(a)(5)) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), and DR 1-102(A)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3(a)(7)) (other conduct that adversely reflects on fitness as a lawyer).

The panel, in the Sept. 25 opinion, also noted that in 2011, the Second Department had transferred a disciplinary matter involving Giorgini to the First Judicial Department.