Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unethical "Ethics" Lawyers Get Axed

Unethical "Ethics" Lawyers Get Axed

Three top so-called "ethics" lawyers, based in Albany, have been pushed out.  Two staff attorneys, Steven Zayas and Elizabeth Devane, and their boss Peter Torncello, chief counsel for the Committee on Professional Standards- the attorney "ethics" committee for the Appellate Division, Third Department.
A New York Law Journal article by Joel Stashenko, "Chief, Two Lawyers Resign From 3rd Dept. Disciplinary Panel," published on July 10, 2013, quotes 3rd Department clerk Robert Mayberger as saying Sherrill Spatz, the NY State court system's "inspector general" is investigating. (To date, no one has been able to determine exactly what an "inspector general investigation" is.)

The official cover-up line, crafted by New York's Unified Court System, is that the firing had something to do with "inaccurate time sheets by the lawyers."  Not surprising, insiders say there's a lot more to the story.  

The 3rd Department Presiding Judge Karen Peters is to be applauded for taking decisive action to get rid of unethical ethics lawyers.

The recent unethical antics by those charged with overseeing the ethics of others unearths fond memories of The 3 Stooges of Manhattan's attorney ethics committee: Alan W. FriedbergSherry K. Cohen and Thomas J. Cahill.  Not much ethics, but a lot of laughs, to be sure. See, "Animal House on 2nd Floor at 61 Broadway - Double Secret Probation"

Not to be outdone with ethical absurdities, the Commission on Judicial Conduct ("CJC") re-hired Alan Friedberg -See, "Disaster Hits New York Statewide Judicial Ethics"

Alan Friedberg had been involved with CJC Chief Counsel Robert Tembeckjian's Bronx Money Grab:

Top Judicial 'Ethics' Lawyer Tembeckjian Settles His Lack-of-Sex Lawsuit

According to the wife of New York State's Commission on Judicial Conduct (the "CJC") Chief Counsel, the story involves the lack of sex to the top attorney at the state agency that oversees the ethics of all New York State judges.  Robert Tembeckjian's wife, New York Daily News reporter Barbara Ross, also says that the ordeal began near a Pizzeria Uno Restaurant and involved "filthy, black, slippery grease."
The lawsuit, Barbata Ross and Robert Tembeckjian v. Betty G. Reader Revocable Trust, et al., , was filed on July 5, 2007 in The New York Supreme Court in the Bronx (Index #17038-07). The additional defendants included Emigrant Business Credit Corporation, Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp; Individually and d/b/a Uno Chicago Grill, Pizzeria Uno Corporation, Individually and d/b/a Uno Chicago Grill, and NJC Carting Corporation, Individually and d/b/a Nicholas J. Cicale Carting. The plaintiffs were represented by Edward A. Steinberg of Leav & Steinberg, LLP with offices at 120 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, New York 10271. While the incident occurred in Manhattan, where the Tembeckjians live, the original complaint indicates that one defendant, NJC Carting Corporation, had an address at 2847 Dudley Avenue in the Bronx.  According to a source, the case settled in April of 2012.

The legal action, according to Ross and Tembeckjian, involved the lack of the defendants to adequately maintain the sidewalk near 391-395 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Apparently, Barbara found herself walking in front of the Pizzeria Uno but then suddenly sitting in filthy, black, slippery grease. Barbara described what happened under oath, saying, "I can only liken it to a bagel overstuffed with cream cheese; when you squish it, the stuff comes out on the side. My shoe, my left shoe, the inside of my left shoe, had a ridge of grease, and my clothes were covered with it, my hands were covered with it."

Robert Tembeckjian Claimed Lack of Sex From Barbara Ross

Robert Tembeckjian alleged in the lawsuit that his sex life had been adversely affected on April 6, 2006 when his wife Barbara Ross was, "lawfully traversing over and upon the sidewalk in front of premises 395 Sixth Avenue in the County, City and State of New York." Bob also asserted that his wife "was caused to slip and fall at the aforesaid place as a result of the negligence of defendants…. and without any negligence on her part contributing thereto."  Co-plaintiff Robert Tembeckjian further claimed, "….loss of services, companionship, society, and consortium of plaintiff Barbara Ross that would normally flow between a husband and wife."  Under oath, Barbara was asked if there had been any disruption in the sexual relationship between her and her husband as a result of the accident. "Yes…. we were monks, for months….until the end of August when I began to feel better…."  The good news, for those interested in the top judicial 'ethics' counsel Tembeckjian's sexual happiness, is, according to Barbara, that their sexual relations resumed, "after my shoulder got really better, so probably November of '06."

The Tembeckjians Couldn't Take State-Paid Trip to Hawaii

When asked where she had traveled to since the accident, Barbara mentioned outside Syracuse and San Diego. The San Diego trip, Ms. Ross said, was "vacation slash business, last summer," adding, "[b]ut we lost a trip to Hawaii, because I couldn't deal with -- we lost a -- my kid is still not letting me live it down. A trip to Hawaii, which substantially would have been paid for by my husband's job because it was a business trip. I couldn't, I couldn't do the flight." Ms. Tembeckjian also indicated that there was an "out-of-pocket loss" not only for her family but for friends who where going to accompany her daughter on that trip.  It is unknown whether either of the Tembeckjians had been asked if they knew how many state judges and their families had been provided with taxpayer-paid trips to Hawaii.

Bob Too Busy Selectively Enforcing Judicial Ethics to Peel Potatoes

During her April 4, 2008 deposition, Barbara indicated that there were "many, many meals" that she couldn't prepare, so they had, "a lot of eat-out," adding, "If you can peel a potato with one hand, I'll tell you how you do it, you put it between your knees and it takes you 45 minutes to do three pounds of potatoes."  Ms. Tembeckjian also said she stopped using her maiden name Boylan, opting for Ross, about two years out of college because, "I worked for another nut named Boylan and I didn't want them to think I was related." After clarifying that Ross had been her prior married name, Barbara indicated that she had been the power of attorney for an Edith Asbury from about April of 2006.



  1. The Albany TImes Union has the story also- "Oversight lawyers quit amid inquiry"

  2. I heard they were deep-sixing ethics complaints for their friends.

  3. You have no idea how bad it was in the 3rd Department. PJ Peters should have referred the findings to the U.S. Attorney's office. But that'll never happen under make-believe-all-is-fine-head-in-sand-Jonathan-Lippman. And Cuomo's not helping much either. He'll just set up another commission, just to delay any substantive clean-up involving his financial supports.

    When will New York have a true leader?

  4. Holding corruption accountable is a rarity in this day and age; especially in the systems of justice.

    It is always a welcomed sight and needs to be more often!

    Laser Haas

  5. I guess I am a little behind in my reading.

    I see Mr. Torncello is being investigated by you for his time sheets. Once again, I request that you investigate the below, which you had mentioned back in 2011 that you would not investigate.