On Thursday, September 14, 2023, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, recently issued a decision in the matter of attorney Michael J. Toomey. The court considered a joint motion by the parties to impose discipline on Toomey due to his violation of various Rules of Professional Conduct.
The case is entitled “Attorney Grievance Committee for the Third Judicial Department v. Michael J. Toomey,” with case no. PM210-23.
Toomey was previously a law partner with Mr. Daniel Gallagher, who was suspended in 2013 and later disbarred in 2020. The court found that Toomey continued to maintain certain attorney escrow accounts previously held in common with Gallagher, used them for improper purposes, and misappropriated funds belonging to a client of Gallagher’s.
The court found that Toomey violated several Rules of Professional Conduct, including rules related to the handling of client funds, maintaining accurate records, and using an attorney escrow account in a manner not incidental to the practice of law. Toomey also allowed Gallagher to remain a signatory on an attorney escrow account despite his suspension.
In relation to this, the parties submitted a joint motion for the imposition of discipline upon Toomey by consent, proposing a censure. The court granted the motion and ordered that Toomey be censured.
In reaching its decision, the court considered mitigating factors, including Toomey’s cooperation with the petitioner, his significant pro bono work, and his various volunteer roles in the community. However, the court also noted aggravating factors, such as Toomey’s private disciplinary history, which indicated a pattern of similar misconduct, and his substantial experience in the practice of law.
The memorandum and order on motion states:
“We nonetheless reiterate that attorneys have a duty to safeguard client funds and, regardless of motive, the knowing misappropriation of client funds is significant misconduct that warrants the imposition of discipline,”
The court concluded that the appropriate sanction was the agreed-upon penalty of censure, given all the facts and circumstances of the case. In summary, the court ruled that Michael J. Toomey violated several Rules of Professional Conduct and was accordingly censured.
The Disposition states:
“ORDERED that the joint motion by the parties is granted, and it is further ORDERED that respondent is censured.”
At the time of writing, Mr. Toomey runs his own law firm – The Toomey Law Firm. According to avvo.com, Mr Toomey is a family attorney in Glens Falls, New York. He attended the Franklin Pierce Law School. He acquired his law license in New York in 1986.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.