Former attorney of couple accused of racism barred

Source Buffalo News:

Prominent lawyer Corey J. Hogan, founder of the esteemed HoganWillig law firm, is refusing to accept the recent suspension of his law license. Hogan — who represented the Rochester-based couple accused of throwing a party with racial undertones, sent an email to fellow attorneys in the region. Hogan passionately defended his actions to a panel of judges barring him from practicing law for two years.

The State Supreme Court Appellate Division, 4th department, issued an order on December 30, stripping Hogan of his license. The panel concurred with the Attorney Grievance Committee and a court-appointed referee — who found Hogan guilty of violating five rules governing attorney conduct. These violations occurred as he extended loans — both personal and from his law firm, to a struggling business client, thereby jeopardizing his professional judgment due to personal interests.

In his email, Hogan expressed his frustration with the current state of affairs in the legal profession, criticizing the excessive micromanagement of day-to-day law practices by the Rules of Professional Discipline. He emphasized the urgent need for change.

Hogan claimed that his case did not involve financial misconduct or abuse towards a client. He vehemently denied any allegations of attempting to take control or ownership of the complainant’s farm, although he refrained from explicitly naming the client, Van Buren Farms of Lockport. Instead, he highlighted the positive impact he had on their business during their attorney-client relationship, which ended in 2017. Thanks to Hogan’s assistance, the farm experienced significant improvements, with fully stocked barns valued at around $500,000, fertilized fields after years of neglect, and repaired and refurbished equipment.

To support his defense, Hogan circulated an opinion by Roy D. Simon Jr., a highly regarded expert in legal ethics and an emeritus professor at the Hofstra University School of Law. Simon argued that Hogan’s interests were aligned with Van Buren Farms, and any success the business achieved would result in repayment to Hogan.

Hogan made it explicitly clear that neither he nor the HoganWillig firm had demanded or received payment for the legal fees totaling approximately $687,000, nor the $490,000 that had been advanced to Van Buren Farms.

Despite Hogan’s relentless efforts to present his case, the Attorney Grievance Committee remained unconvinced, leading to his loss in the hearing presided over by a referee appointed by the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division judges subsequently upheld the referee’s findings, which Hogan criticized for lacking thorough analysis.

Hogan acknowledged the immense challenge of getting a challenge before the Court of Appeals and emerging victorious. Hal R. Lieberman, a lawyer and author of “New York Attorney Discipline,” explained that appellate remedies in disciplinary cases are limited and rarely result in reversal or substantial modification.

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