The State of New York has suspended real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey from practicing law for four months based in part on a conversation in which the lawyer told a tenant to kill himself.
The Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court handed down the decision on Tuesday in response to a petition from the Attorney Grievance Committee accusing Bailey of undignified conduct before a tribunal and threatening criminal charges to obtain an advantage in a civil matter. The allegations stemmed from two separate instances.
One occurred in November 2016, when Bailey entered a conference room in the middle of a witness testifying during an arbitration hearing. He started to take pictures with his phone and said, “This will be in the newspaper when I put this in there after we kick your asses. You should be ashamed of yourselves for kicking people out of a building, and you have to live with yourself.”
The other happened in September 2016, when James Dawson, a tenant at Lalezarian Properties’ 100 Maiden Lane, accused the owner of overcharging tenants in postings on a website. Bailey, who represented Lalezarian, demanded he take down the website or face a lawsuit but did not get a response, according to the Appellate decision.
He then texted Dawson, saying that his firm was “filing a lawsuit against you for millions of dollars of damages you have caused as a result of your defamatory website,” the decision stated.
“We are also in contact with the location [sic] police station and we have a copy of the complaint your ex-girlfriend filed against you and we will be using all means necessary to protect our clients,” the text read.
He called Dawson on the same day, calling him “not that bright” and said he would soon go bankrupt if he didn’t take the site down. He told Dawson that he “should commit suicide” and that he was “one of those people in the world that really should just kill themselves because you’re worthless.”
He also told a person in his room that he needed Dawson arrested and that he had “no idea” what he stepped into.
“Welcome to my world. Now you’re my bitch,” Bailey said, adding, “you’re gonna be paying for this heavily for the rest of your life.”
In an emailed statement, Dawson said, “Actively advocating for one to commit suicide goes beyond any parsed legal gluttony. As a victim of Adam Leitman Bailey’s predicate abuse, I am thankful to see the AGC [Attorney Grievance Committee] hold the remorseless-Bailey accountable for his transgressions.”
In a statement through his attorney, Michael Ross, Bailey said he is “deeply apologetic for his unfortunate conduct in the matters that led to his suspension.
“He has committed his entire life to advancing the interests of his clients and, unfortunately, he allowed his emotions to trump his good judgment in this matters,” the statement read. “Mr. Bailey is thankful for the unwavering support of his family, his friends and his clients.”
The firm will change its name to Desiderio, Kaufman & Metz, until Bailey returns from his suspension, as a firm bearing his name is not allowed to practice as part of the decision. A source at the firm said Bailey planned to revise a new edition of the law practice book, “Real Estate Titles,” originally written by Milton Jacobs in 1950, while he is suspended.
Rachel Sigmund, an attorney at Bailey’s practice, said the firm will be tested without Bailey at the helm.
“We are deeply disturbed by this news, Adam is our leader here and is more hard working than anyone I know,” Sigmund said. “He lives and breathes for this firm, so it was very difficult to read this decision.”
The referee in Bailey’s case recommended a suspension of three months following his disciplinary hearing, saying that while Bailey did show remorse for his actions, he also refused to take full responsibility for them and did not “properly” apologize.
Bailey also said there were mitigating factors going on at the time of the incidents, including difficulties he was having as the parent of a newborn child, but the referee said that “lawyers are required to control their emotions, and his problems are unrelated to his misbehavior.”
The court noted in its decision that Bailey’s conduct did not occur over many years or affect several people, and he had not been held in contempt of court before. However, he has faced two prior admonishments from the Attorney Grievance Committee.
The court cited these prior instances and Bailey’s failure to take full responsibility for his actions as the reasons for suspending him for four months.