New Lawyers Must Appear Before the Bar's Character and Fitness Committee

Recently, two prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office were suspended after an internal investigtion showed  they were never admitted to the New York State Bar.

Damani Sims and Charles Coleman both passed the written portion of the bar exam but did not follow through on the final step for bar admittance.  Sims had worked for the D.A for only a year.  Coleman had worked in the office three years.  Both of the lawyers will be welcome back at their jobs when they clear up the necessary paperwork.  They were both hired under the condition that they needed to appear before the state bar’s character and fitness committee — a standard practice for new lawyers in New York.

Neither of the men made the routine appearance.

In 1989, the Brooklyn D.A.’s office discovered one of their veteran prosecutors, Daniel Penofsky, who had handled hundereds of cases over 15 years had never passed the bar exam!

Penofsky who worked in the special narcotics section was fired and ended up pleading guilty to practicisng  law without a license. The court of appeals upheld his conviction.

Birdsong says let this be a lesson to new lawyers — follow through on all the steps required to practice law in your state.

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