Suspension for lawyer who created fake online profile
The suspension of a Staten Island attorney who went on a lesbian dating website posing as a woman he once knew has been issued by the Appellate Division, 2nd Department.
James O’Hare went to on an online dating site for lesbians and created a false profile impersonating a woman he had previously known. According to court documents, he used both his home and work computers for this activity, aware that the fake profile would likely cause embarrassment to the woman, who was a mother of three.
O’Hare did not deny his creation of the false profile, but asserted that his actions did not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct and thus didn’t rise to the level warranting suspension. O’Hare was arrested in 2011 and plead guilty to aggravated harassment, a criminal misdemeanor, stemming from the fake web profile. He received a one-year discharge, and an order of protection was issued against him. O’Hare has since asked the Appellate Division that his discharge be lifted.
Though he had already been suspended from practicing law for over a year, in its July 17 unsigned opinion, a panel of Appellate Division, 2nd Department, judges ordered a one-year suspension for O’Hare, noting that his “conduct was highly inappropriate and adversely reflects on the legal profession.”
In his defense, O’Hare asserted that while his actions were “inexcusable,” the woman was not one of his clients and suffered no bodily of financial harm from his actions. O’Hare also noted that he suffers from a disorder that prevents him from appropriately adjusting to environments or situations. The panel found the arguments unpersuasive.
Given the fact that O’Hare has already served a year of discharge from the practice of law, the panel allowed O’Hare to take time served and apply for reinstatement immediately — so long as he can prove that he refrained from practicing or attempting to practice law, maintained his continuing legal education credits and otherwise conducted himself properly.
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