Court Suspends “Copyright Troll” Lawyer From Practicing Law In New York * TorrentFreak
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Due to repeated misconduct, copyright lawyer Richard Liebowitz is suspended from his right to practice law in New York State, effective immediately. The New York Supreme Court’s appeals division made the drastic move following a similar order from the Southern District of New York last year, which has since spread to other states as well.
In just a few years, New York attorney Richard Liebowitz has filed over a thousand copyright infringement lawsuits.
The vast majority of these cases have been filed on behalf of photographers who accuse companies, including mainstream media, of using their photos without permission.
When we first spotted this emerging trend in 2016, Liebowitz told us he was helping freelance photographers protect their rights. Too often, companies exploit their work without paying, he said.
Liebowitz’s repeated misconduct
While this argument is still true in many cases, the lawyer himself also struggles to play by the rules. During his relatively short career, the courts reprimanded and sanctioned him for various types of misconduct.
Last year, these missteps led to severe punishment. After reviewing the attorney’s background, the New York Southern District Grievance Committee decided to suspend Liebowitz until further notice.
This order was just the start. While Liebowitz continued to be active as an attorney elsewhere at a lower frequency, his options became limited as other courts took charge of the stay order.
Distribution of suspensions
The Eastern District of New York was one of the first to issue a stay order based on the Southern District’s findings, and federal courts in Tennessee, Colorado and Illinois have followed suit.
This week, the New York Supreme Court’s appeal division further expanded the suspension. Reuters reports that after reviewing the available evidence, the court banned Liebowitz from practicing in New York state.
“In the circumstances of this case, we find that an immediate suspension is warranted. The respondent’s misconduct in the context of litigation has sometimes endangered the prospects for recovery of his clients and made his opponents incur unnecessary expenses ”, indicates the judgment.
The order specifically refers to Liebowitz’s disrespect in the Berger case, where the lawyer repeatedly misled the court while questioning the authority of District Court Judge Cathy. Seibel. The lawyer also misrepresented the date of his grandfather’s death in this case.
“Recurrence is probable”
The lawyer struck off the bar said he had learned from his mistakes. However, the court of appeal is not convinced and stresses that he minimized his reprehensible acts by qualifying them as “negligence” and “administrative failures”. As such, future missteps cannot be ruled out.
“The existing Southern District record supports its conclusion that, given the Respondent’s history of repeated disregard for court orders, recurrence of his misconduct is likely.
“We consider that the respondent behaved immediately threatening the public interest and his immediate suspension of the exercise of the right is justified”, adds the court of appeal.
The court order, signed by five judges, suspends Liebowitz from practicing law in New York State, effective immediately.
In response to the ruling, Liebowitz attorney Michael Ross told Reuters his client was “disappointed” that the court took the step before the case was fully heard by the Southern District of New York, where the suspension is opposite.
A copy of the order issued by the New York Supreme Court, Appeals Division, Second Department, is available here (pdf). Photo credit: image of Liebowitz by “King of Hearts” (CC BY-SA 4.0)