By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A married Manhattan lawyer was
suspended Tuesday after he flew to Jamaica, told a government
official he was a bachelor and then wed his mistress.
The Appellate Division, First Department, suspended solo
practitioner Joseph Rosenzweig for six months, noting that
"there appears to be no prior disciplinary case directly on
Rosenzweig, who specializes in personal injury and real
estate law, had argued that he should be publicly censured.
He began an affair with another woman in the mid-1990s,
according to the decision.
At some point, the two flew to Jamaica, where Rosenzweig
told a Jamaican government official he was a "bachelor" so he
could participate in a ceremony that resulted in an official
marriage under Jamaican law.
Rosenzweig told the departmental disciplinary committee that
he did not intend to enter into an illegal marriage. He also
said the woman understood that the "purported marriage was not a
legal union, and they had no plans to cohabit after the Jamaican
ceremony," according to the court.
A referee sustained several charges against Rosenzweig,
including violations of professional conduct rules for "entering
into the bigamous marriage in violation of Jamaican law" and for
lying to a Jamaican official.
However, the referee noted that the marriage did not raise
public policy concerns, since the couple returned to New York
and had no intention of living as a married couple.
"Here the parties to the purported marriage were in Jamaica
only briefly, and there was no impact on the Jamaican
citizenry," the referee wrote, according to the decision.
The referee recommended a public censure, rather than a
suspension, in part because Rosenzweig fully cooperated with the
investigation, had no previous disciplinary record and engaged
in misconduct that was unrelated to the practice of law.
The court said it had issued suspensions in cases involving
"willful misrepresentation" to government officials and added
that the fact that Rosenzweig's conduct was of a personal nature
did not necessarily call for a less severe sanction.
Michael Ross, Rosenzweig's attorney, said his client "looks
forward to putting this unfortunate portion of his life behind
The case is Matter of Rosenzweig, New York State Supreme
Court, Appellate Division, First Department, No. 2811-3201.
For the departmental disciplinary committee: Vitaly
Lipkansky of the committee's counsel.
For Rosenzweig: Michael Ross.
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook