Kaylin L. Whittingham Blog

Matter of Knudsen

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Cases | 0 comments


109 A.D.3d 94 *; 968 N.Y.S.2d 426 **; 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4041 ***; 2013 NY Slip Op 4128 ****; 2013 WL 2435435
[****1] In the Matter of Peter J. Knudsen (Admitted as
Peter James Knudsen), an Attorney, Respondent.
Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First
Judicial Department, Petitioner.

Prior History

DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent was admitted to the bar on June 19, 1995 at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department as Peter James Knudsen.

Core Terms

Disciplinary, discipline, misconduct, reprimand, censured, publicly, notice, waived



Attorney and Client — Disciplinary Proceedings

Pursuant to the reciprocal disciplinary provisions of 22 NYCRR 603.3, respondent was publicly censured based upon a formal reprimand imposed upon him by the Disciplinary Board of the Washington State Bar Association for his admitted violations of an order of protection.

Counsel: [***1] Jorge Dopico, Chief Counsel, Departmental Disciplinary Committee, New York City (Kaylin L. Whittingham of counsel), for petitioner.

Peter J. Knudsen, respondent pro se.

Judges: First Judicial Department Angela M. Mazzarelli, Justice Presiding, Richard T. Andrias, David B. Saxe, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Judith J. Gische, Justices. All concur. Mazzarelli, J.P., Andrias, Saxe, Manzanet-Daniels and Gische, JJ., concur.


 *95] [**427] Per Curiam.

Respondent Peter J. Knudsen was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on June 19, 1995, under the name Peter James Knudsen. Respondent is also admitted to practice in the State of Washington, where he lives. The Departmental Disciplinary Committee seeks an order pursuant to Rules of the Appellate Division, First Department (22 NYCRR) § 603.3 disciplining respondent, predicated upon discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Board of the Washington State Bar Association, based on respondent’s admitted violations of an order [***2] of protection by his actions in sending four separate text messages to his child’s mother despite his knowledge of the order. This conduct constituted a violation of Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct rule 8.4 (i), as an act reflecting disregard for the rule of law. Respondent waived his right to a hearing and stipulated to the facts, violation, and the proposed discipline of a formal reprimand. However, respondent failed to notify the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the reprimand; the notice was provided by the Washington State Bar Association. 

Respondent has not opposed or responded to the petition, and therefore has not raised any of the defenses specified in 22 NYCRR 603.3 (c). Nor do the submissions offer any basis for the existence of an enumerated defense. Respondent received notice of the charges and was given an opportunity to be heard, but voluntarily waived his rights by negotiating a stipulation (22 NYCRR 603.3 [c] [1]). In view of the stipulated facts, there is no basis for an infirmity of proof defense (22 NYCRR 603.3 [c] [2]). And, the misconduct for which he was sanctioned also constitutes misconduct in this jurisdiction, namely, engaging in illegal conduct that [***3] adversely reflects on the lawyers honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, a violation of the then-applicable Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102 (a) (3) (22 NYCRR 1200.3 [a] [3]), now rule 8.4 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0).

Since no defense exists, the imposition of reciprocal discipline is appropriate (22 NYCRR 603.3). The only issue for resolution by this Court is the appropriate sanction to be imposed. It is a generally accepted principle that the jurisdiction where respondent lived and practiced law at the time of the offense has the greatest interest in the issue and the public policy considerations [*96] relevant to such disciplinary actions (see Matter of Reiss, 119 AD2d 1, 6, 505 NYS2d 604 [1st Dept 1986]; see also Matter of Supino, 23 AD3d 11, 806 NYS2d 178 [1st Dept 2005]).  In this matter, the Disciplinary Board of the Washington State Bar Association imposed a public reprimand, which is the equivalent of public censure in this state (see Matter of Power, 3 AD3d 21, 768 NYS2d 455 [1st Dept 2003]; Matter of Maiorino, 301 A.D.2d 53, 750 NYS2d 264 [1st Dept 2002]). The Committee asserts that there is no reason to depart from the sanction imposed by Washington. Indeed, such a sanction is in keeping with [***4] First Department precedent for similar matters (see e.g. Matter of Sims, 36 AD3d 304, 825 NYS2d 475 [1st Dept 2006]; Matter of Hawthorne, 309 AD2d 285, 765 NYS2d 607 [**428] [1st Dept 2003]). Finally, respondent cooperated in the Washington proceeding, he stipulated to his misconduct, and he has no disciplinary history. 

Accordingly, the Committee’s petition for an order imposing discipline should be granted and respondent should be publicly censured in accordance with the discipline imposed in the State of Washington. [****2]

Mazzarelli, J.P., Andrias, Saxe, MANZANET-DANIELS and Gische, JJ., concur.

Respondent publicly censured.