Possibly Incapacitated N.Y. Lawyer Disbarred

     (CN) – A New York appeals court has disbarred a lawyer who pleaded guilty to harassment and stalking charges for threatening behavior, which included mailing a judge a box cutter.
     The court considered evidence that Scott Stern, who was admitted in 2009 to the psychiatric ward of the UCLA Medical Center with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
     A California court terminated the “involuntary hold” on Stern after a little more than a week, however, after finding that he was not “gravely disabled.”
     Around the same time he was released, in February 2009, Stern told a court clerk that he should be taken seriously and was “seriously considering resorting to violence.”
     That same month, Stern asked the clerk whether he would have to “come back [to the courthouse] with a bat.”
     The box-cutter incident entailed Stern mailing the tool to a judge along with a letter directing her to show it to six other judges as well as attorneys who represented his landlord in a summary proceeding that was brought against him.
     These events led Stern to plead guilty in early 2010 to three counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree, and two counts of stalking in the fourth degree.
     Stern’s plea required him to voluntarily resign from the bar, but there were errors in Stern’s filings to the Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department.
     The committee in turn examined Stern under oath in 2011, at which point he admitted to the aforementioned behavior.
     The committee attempted to have a psychiatrist evaluate Stern’s mental capacity, but Stern failed to comply with these orders.
     Stern did not submit an answer to the charges the committee subsequently served against him.
     A referee recommended disbarment after a hearing at which Stern did not appear, but a hearing panel recommended indefinite suspension to account for Stern’s “possible lack of capacity during both the period of the underlying acts of misconduct and at various times since then.”
     A five-justice panel of the Appellate Division instead had Stern disbarred on Tuesday.
     According to published reports, Stern sent the box cutter to New York City Housing Judge Pam Jackson-Brown, who presided over a case in which Stern was thrown out of his Upper East Side apartment.
     The appellate panel consisted of Justices Angela Mazzarelli, John Sweeney, David Saxe, Leland DeGrasse and Sallie Manzanet-Daniels.

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