Prominent Personal Injury Attorney Receives 2-Year Suspension for Unauthorized Practice
According to a petition filed by the Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) of New York, veteran personal injury attorney, Robert F. Garnsey, has received a two-year suspension from the First Judicial Department panel for unauthorized practice of law.
Despite being a part of a 2017 mass suspension that included multiple attorneys who failed to meet biennial registration obligations in violation of Judiciary Law 468-a, Garnsey was active in 13 litigation matters and undertook oral arguments in 2018 and 2019 before the Appellate Division, Second Department.
On January 30, 2017, the Court announced his suspension from practicing law until further notice through the New York Law Journal. Garnsey had practiced law in New York since being admitted to the bar in 1994 while reportedly also maintaining a part-time job as a voice artist for additional income. On March 15, 2019, he received notice from the Grievance Committee of the First Department regarding a complaint filed against him for unauthorized practice of law.
In July 2020, through a petition of charges filed against Garnsey, the AGC alleged that he continued to practice law even after the suspension on January 30, 2017. The petition claimed that despite Garnsey’s failure to register, update his contact information with the Office of Court Administration (OCA), and pay the required fees, he engaged in judicial conduct. The petition also questioned the personal injury attorney’s professional credibility given that he failed to meet his CLE prerequisites.
The AGC issued a joint motion under the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) 1240.8 (a) (5) for consensual discipline, and sought a 24-month suspension order effective from March 15, 2019. The order was accepted by Garnsey.
However, while accepting his fault in practicing law without authorization Garnsey cited a flawless disciplinary history in his defense during mitigation. He further stated that the misconduct does not illustrate dishonesty because he executed the required number of CLE conditions over the years of his practice, and paid the 2020/2021 registration fees.
The panel confirmed that Garnsey “conditionally admitted the foregoing facts” and “ran afoul of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0).” Additionally, the panel stated he “engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when he practiced in New York after his January 30, 2017 suspension [in violation of rule 5.5 (a)]” and “engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice [in violation of Judiciary Law 468-a].”
The order directs Garnsey to “fully comply with the provisions of the Court’s rules governing the conduct of disbarred or suspended attorneys.” It further states that he “has been issued a secure pass by the Office of Court Administration,” and “it shall be returned forthwith to the issuing agency.”