The Appellate Division, First Department, yesterday suspended attorney Amy Gurvey for six months for abusing the courts in a decade-long litigation where Gurvey claimed she was fraudulently induced to vacate a federally subsidized apartment. According to the decision, that litigation led to two Civil Court decisions and one Supreme Court decision imposing sanctions against Gurvey of $8,783. Gurvey's conduct was "indicative of harassment and an abuse of the judicial process" and "mean spirited and vexatious," according to the panel.
In April 2005, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee issued a letter of admonition against Gurvey. She demanded that the letter be vacated, and the committee responded by filing a collateral estoppel petition against her based on previous sanctions orders. The First Department granted the petition and remanded the matter to the committee for a hearing on further sanctions.
Before a hearing panel of the disciplinary committee, Gurvey admitted that she had not paid the sanctions and didn't intend to. However, she argued that the proceeding should be dismissed because she had not practiced law since 2002. She also said she had a serious immune disease, had been treated for cancer and depended on disability benefits as her sole source of income.
The hearing panel recommended that Gurvey be suspended for one year. The First Department agreed yesterday that a suspension was warranted because of "respondent's pursuit of frivolous and vexatious litigation, as well as her misrepresentations to the court." However, it said the case was mitigated by Gurvey's medical issues and reduced the suspension to six months. Gurvey will not be able to apply to be readmitted to the bar unless she proves that she has paid the sanctions.