What gets a lawyer disbarred in New York? Apparently not trying to “engage in an oral sexual act” with a 13-year-old. In 2004 barrister Steven J. Lever chatted online and had several phone calls with a cop pretending to be a severely underage girl. He was arrested when he tried to meet the fictional nymphet and charged with a felony, but pled out to a misdemeanor. Yesterday an appellate panel finally got around to considering his case, and voted 3-2 to suspend his license for three years. The majority said they went easy on him because he had “voluntarily entered sex offender treatment” and that his risk of recidivism was “low.” Dissenter Judge James Catterson said that “a convicted and registered sex offender has forfeited the privilege of admission to the bar and the elevated status of the officer of the court.”
Catterson pointed out that New York attorneys are usually disbarred over “conversion of client funds,” though Lynne Stewart lost her New York license last year for allegedly aiding terrorists, and Nixon was disbarred for the Watergate cover-up.