On Wednesday, January 10, 2024, the Minnesota Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Joseph Kaminsky from the practice of law for violating numerous rules of professional conduct in his representation of three clients.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Joseph Kaminsky,” with case no. A21-1649.
The charges cited Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 3.3(a)(1), 3.4(c), 4.1, 5.3, 8.4(d), 1.3, 1.5(b)(3), 1.15(a), 1.15(c)(5).
The court’s decision affirmed the findings and recommendation of a referee who presided over an evidentiary hearing on the disciplinary petition brought against Kaminsky by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. The referee concluded Kaminsky committed 16 rules violations through misconduct that included filing a false affidavit with the court, failing to properly supervise staff, neglecting a client matter, and providing incompetent legal representation.
According to the facts presented, Kaminsky’s violations stemmed from his handling of custody and restraining order matters on behalf of three different clients dating back to 2016. In one case, Kaminsky filed an affidavit claiming a mother had been personally served notice of a custody hearing when in fact she had not. Kaminsky knew service was not properly completed as required by court order but still allowed the false affidavit to be submitted. This resulted in the mother losing custody of her children for two years without receiving a fair chance to be heard.
In another matter, Kaminsky failed to make any inquiries about a client’s mental health issues over nearly four years of representation, despite the man seeking to vacate a restraining order issued partly due to such conditions. Kaminsky also attempted service by publication rather than conducting necessary legal research to comply with personal service mandates. Both actions constituted incompetent and inadequate legal work.
Kaminsky has a substantial prior disciplinary record spanning over four decades of practice, including multiple admonishments and probations for similar types of misconduct. He challenged several of the referee’s conclusions but the Supreme Court found none were made in clear error.
After reviewing the case, the high court agreed indefinite suspension was the appropriate sanction. The justice system requires honesty and integrity, and Kaminsky’s dishonest affidavit filing struck at the heart of that, the court emphasized. His neglect of clients and incompetent legal skills also harmed the reputation of the profession.
While Kaminsky sought a lesser penalty due to planning to retire, the court declined to consider this a mitigating factor, noting disciplinary action aims to protect the public rather than punish attorneys. An indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for nine months was deemed necessary here to adequately deter future rule violations.
The Disposition states:
“Respondent Joseph Kaminsky is suspended from the practice of law, effective 14 days from the date of this opinion, with no right to petition for reinstatement for 9 months.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Kaminsky is a business attorney in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. He attended the University of Minnesota. He acquired his law license in Minnesota in 1972.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.