Court of Appeals Declines to Reinstate Ex-Attorney Joel Brandes | New York Law Journal

The state’s highest court will not intervene to restore the law license of Joel Brandes, an ex-attorney found to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in defiance of a disbarment order.

In a brief, unsigned ruling Tuesday, the Court of Appeals said that just as the Appellate Division, Second Department, disbarred Brandes in 2002, his reinstatement is primarily at the discretion of the appellate court.

“Because ‘the Appellate Division is the fact finder on issues of character and fitness and its discretion is inclusive,’ our standard of review is limited to whether the Second Department abused its discretion,” the court said, quoting Matter of Anonymous, 79 NY2d 782 (1991), “Here, because there was record support for the court’s decision, there was no abuse of discretion in denying the reinstatement application.”

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Judges Eugene Pigott Jr., Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Eugene Fahey and Michael Garcia joined in the ruling in Matter of Brandes, 162. Judges Jenny Rivera and Leslie Stein did not take part.

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