Embattled copyright lawyer suspended from practice in New York

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An exterior view of the state appellate courthouse at 45 Monroe Place in Brooklyn, New York December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Chip East

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  • Liebowitz has been called 'troll' for filing thousands of copyright cases
  • State court suspends Liebowitz in response to federal court suspension

(Reuters) - A New York state appeals court on Wednesday suspended embattled attorney Richard Liebowitz, who courts have called a "copyright troll" for filing thousands of low-value copyright infringement complaints on behalf of photographers, from practicing in New York.

Liebowitz has already been sanctioned by several courts for misconduct, including the Manhattan-based U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he has filed more than 1,000 complaints and was suspended from practice on an interim basis last year.

The suspension by SDNY's grievance committee last November was based on false statements and failures to comply with court orders, including lying to U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel about the date of his grandfather's death as an excuse for missing a conference, refusing to provide proof for months, and only recanting after she threatened to incarcerate him.

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Wednesday's decision from the court's Appellate Division, Second Department suspended Liebowitz "until further order of the Court" as "reciprocal discipline" for the federal court's suspension.

Liebowitz's attorney Michael Ross of the Law Offices of Michael S. Ross said Liebowitz was "disappointed" about being suspended before having his case at SDNY heard on the merits, but looks forward to the "opportunity to present all of the relevant evidence" at his hearing.

Liebowitz had argued the state's suspension would violate due process because he hasn't had a full chance to litigate the matter in Manhattan.

But the state court's opinion, jointly written by five judges, said Liebowitz had a fair opportunity to litigate the matter before the Southern District suspended him.

The court also discounted Liebowitz's "recent attempts at introspection and contrition," finding he "nonetheless minimizes frequent behavior that made a mockery of orderly litigation processes by attributing it to 'sloppiness' and 'administrative failures.'"

"We find that the respondent has engaged in conduct immediately threatening the public interest and his immediate suspension from the practice of law is warranted," the court said.

Liebowitz is suspended from practicing in New York in "any form," the opinion said.

The case is In the Matter of Richard P. Liebowitz, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, No. 2021–00031.

For Liebowitz: Michael Ross of the Law Offices of Michael S. Ross

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comment from Liebowitz's attorney.)

Read more:

'Copyright troll' Richard Liebowitz suspended from Manhattan federal court

2nd Circuit affirms nationwide sanctions against copyright attorney Liebowitz

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com