NEW JERSEY, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The New Jersey State
Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the ethics complaint against
an employment lawyer whose website bore the seal of the New
Jersey Board on Attorney Certification, despite the lawyer's
not having received the credential.
Ty Hyderally, who owns Hyderally & Associates in Montclair,
was accused of violating the state Supreme Court's rules
prohibiting "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation," for displaying the seal for two years. The
seal, which appeared on 16 different pages of Hyderally's
website, includes the language "New Jersey Supreme Court
In dismissing the complaint the top court concluded that
there was "no clear and convincing evidence" that Hyderally had
either intentionally included the seal or approved its presence
on the site, the decision said.
But the court also warned members of the New Jersey bar
that attorneys are responsible for monitoring the content of
all communications with the public, including their websites,
to make sure that those communications conform "at all times"
with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Going forward,
attorneys who are not authorized to use the seal "will be
subject to appropriate discipline," the court ruled. The court
did not specify what discipline it would consider appropriate.
The seal "represents a significant professional achievement
by the lawyers who earn it," the decision said.
According to the certification board's website, to receive
the designation an attorney must demonstrate "sufficient levels
of experience, education, knowledge and skill in a specific
area of law or practice; have passed a rigorous examination;
and have been recognized by their peers as having sufficient
skills and reputation in the designated specialty."
As of Dec. 2010, the most recent date for which figures are
available, 87,639 attorneys were admitted to practice in New
Jersey, according to Tammy Kendig, a spokeswoman for the
Administrative Office of the Courts. Kendig said that as of
Tuesday, 1,550 attorneys have been certified by the
'UNINTENTIONAL AND INADVERTENT'
Hyderally was admitted to the bar in 1994. Neither he nor
any of his associates or staff had been certified when
Hyderally asked his cousin, Yusuf Asgerally, a website designer
based in California, to design his firm's website in 2005.
Hyderally said he never reviewed the site's content in
detail and didn't know the seal had been included until 2007,
when he learned the Supreme Court Committee on Attorney
Advertising had received a grievance about the false
designation, according to the decision.
In 2010, the Office of Attorney Ethics filed a complaint
against Hyderally. During a hearing on the complaint, Asgerally
testified that he had seen images of the seal and assumed that
a lawyer practicing in New Jersey is certified.
Hyderally testified that he didn't tell his cousin to
include the seal, and that after learning of its presence, he
told Asgerally to take it down. He testified that the seal's
presence "had been unintentional and inadvertent."
The hearing panel concluded that Hyderally had a duty to
monitor his website and ensure that it contained no improper
content, and that his conduct warranted a reprimand.
But when the Disciplinary Review Board reviewed the panel's
recommendation, it concluded the complaint should be dismissed,
citing Hyderally's immediate removal of the seal and the fact
that he had not derived any benefit from displaying the
The Office of Attorney Ethics challenged the board's
decision, arguing that the seal's improper use could not be
cured simply by discontinuing its use, and that evidence of a
benefit is not required to prove a violation.
In a phone interview, Hyderally said, "I'm very happy with
the decision and relieved, quite frankly, that this ordeal ...
concluded in a positive manner."
The Office of Attorney Ethics did not respond to a call for
The case is In the Matter of Ty Hyderally, an attorney at
law, Supreme Court of New Jersey, No. 068701.
For Hyderally: Frederick Dennehy of Wilentz, Goldman &
For the Office of Attorney Ethics: Walton Kingsbery III,
Assistant Ethics Counsel.
(Reporting by Jennifer Golson)
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