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In re Katz

Decided: October 30, 1987.

IN THE MATTER OF STEVEN L. KATZ, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW


On an order to show cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

For suspension -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Clifford, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi and Stein. Opposed -- None.

Per Curiam

[109 NJ Page 18] This disciplinary proceeding arose from a motion filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) before the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB), seeking final discipline of respondent, Steven L. Katz, pursuant to Rule 1:20-6(b)(2)(i). The motion was based on respondent's plea of guilty to the misdemeanor of promoting prostitution in the fourth degree under ยง 230.20 of the New York Penal Law. The DRB found that respondent has engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law and has recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for two years. Our independent review of the record leads us to accept that recommendation.

I

The relevant facts are set forth in the Decision and Recommendation of the DRB.

Following his admission to the bar in 1971, respondent became involved in the family construction business. He has never practiced law.

In the 1970's respondent became a co-owner of a burlesque theatre on West 48th Street in the Times Square area of New York City. At first the theatre operated as a "striptease joint." Admission fees were charged. Beginning approximately in January 1981, a practice known as "Mardi Gras" was introduced. During that event, the female "performers" would mingle with the audience. The male patrons in the audience would be permitted to touch and fondle the performers. Additionally, oral/genital and digital/genital contact between the patrons and performers occurred, for which the performer received payment. Respondent and his partners did not share in these "tips" but they profited from the increased number of patrons, each of whom paid an admission fee.

On November 30, 1982, respondent and one of his partners, a member of the bar of the State of New York, were indicted for promoting and profiting from prostitution in the third degree, in violation of section 230.25 of the New York Penal Law. On February 14, 1983, both respondent and his partner completely divorced themselves from involvement in the enterprise.

At the conclusion of a jury trial in early 1984, the jury was hopelessly deadlocked. On May 14, 1984, respondent pleaded guilty to the fourth degree misdemeanor of promoting prostitution, in violation of section 230.20 of the New York Penal Law. On August 1, 1984, the court sentenced respondent to a conditional discharge with a $1,000 fine.

II

A criminal conviction of an attorney is conclusive evidence of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding. R. 1:20-6(b)(1). The extent of final discipline to be imposed is thus the sole issue to be determined in this proceeding. R. 1:20-6(b)(2)(ii); Matter of Goldberg, 105 N.J. 278, 280 (1987); Matter of Litwin, 104 N.J. 362, 364-65 (1986); Matter of Tuso, 104 N.J. 59, 62 (1986); Matter of Alosio, 99 N.J. 84, 88 (1985); In re Addonizio, 95 N.J. 121, 123 (1984).

In determining the appropriate discipline, we consider many factors, among them the nature and severity of the crime, whether the crime is related to the practice of law, the respondent's good ...


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