Ethics

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A former administrative law judge in New York has been censured for punching a legal aid lawyer outside a Manhattan party in October 2016.

Robert V. Beltrani was publicly censured Tuesday by the Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court, Law360 reports. The Legal Profession Blog has highlights and a link to the Feb. 16 opinion.

After the incident, Beltrani was fired from his job as an administrative law judge who ruled on parole violations at Rikers Island. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of harassment in May 2018, the New York Daily News previously reported.

Beltrani agreed to the censure.

The party had celebrated the opening of a friend’s law firm. According to stipulated facts, the incident happened after Beltrani and the lawyer, Sam Roberts, “availed themselves” of the open bar. They talked outside the party. Roberts took a step toward Beltrani and touched his chest. Beltrani, who was intoxicated, responded by punching Roberts in the head.

Roberts fell to the ground and Beltrani landed on top of him. Beltrani got up and left.

Beltrani was able to avoid a conviction on his record for third-degree assault after taking an anger management course and completing 10 days of community service, the New York Daily News had reported.

Beltrani has no other discipline on his record in 32 years of law practice. He apologized for his misconduct and continued community service after the mandated participation ended. Beltrani did not comment when reached by Law360.

Roberts told Law360 that he endured a permanent shoulder injury in the incident. He noted that Beltrani is no longer a judge and said the resolution is “fair and appropriate.”

“We all make mistakes. I wish Mr. Beltrani well and hope we can both move on,” Roberts told the publication.