Kevin L. Wright, district attorney of Putnam County and president of the New York State Attorneys Association, claims in his March 11 letter that two attorneys who publicly disclosed the details of their disciplinary complaints against two prosecutors (March 4) violated the confidentiality provisions of Judiciary Law §90(10) and Code of Professional Responsibility Dr l-1-2 (sic)
claim, presumably based on Dr 1-102 (22NYCRR §1200.3 [Misconduct]), might have merit but for the fact that complainants before departmental disciplinary committees are not bound, with respect to their complaints, by the confidentiality provisions of §90(10); the committee and the Appellate Division are so bound.
A client complaining of his
attorney's theft may tell the world, though he
risks a defamation action by the attorney.
If the client relates his
complaint to the committee, he
enjoys an absolute privilege with respect to what he
has laid before the committee.
An attorney who complains about a prosecutor's prejudicial misconduct is, with respect to confidentiality, in no lesser place than the allegedly victimized client.
Indeed, it is hard to grasp Mr. Wright's
claim that it is prejudicial to the administration of justice for attorneys to state that they have filed complaints before a disciplinary committee in connection with prejudicial extra-judicial statements that were publicly made by prosecutors in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
In an ideal prosecutorial world, Mr. Wright
would be right.
In an ideal Constitutional world, however, Mr. Wright
would be wrong.
It is unfortunate that Putnam County District Attorney Kevin Wright complains, ("Disclosure of Complaints Is Troubling," March 11), when District Attorney Jeanine lairro, who overstepped the strictures of the Trial Publicity Rule DR 7-107, became the subject of an investigation. ("Pirro's Comments Prompt Action by Defense Group," March 4).
Where was Mr. Wright
colleague's rhetoric filled the media and compromised the due process rights of those accused of crimes?