A prominent New York defense attorney has been censured by the New York Appellate Division’s Committee on Professional Standards for a picture he took during a trial in 2011. Attorney Terence L. Kindlon, a 65 year-old Vietnam War veteran, was defending Kevin Powell, a former Army captain. Powell was charged with assault in 2010 for throwing a beer mug at a woman while in a bar.
Originally, the case was to be prosecuted by Bruce Lennard. Lennard did not continue with the case, as he accepted a job offer at the Tully Rinckey law firm. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Brian Conley took the case. There was email correspondence between Lennard and Conley regarding part of the prosecution’s trial strategy (namely that Powell was a “trained warrior who knows what he is capable of and what the effects of his action will be”), which Kindlon caught sight of. Kindlon, who carries with him a small digital camera, took a picture of the emails and sent it to Matthew Tully, a partner at the firm Lennard works at. Tully was upset that one of his attorneys was helping the prosecution, and promptly fired Lennard.
Seventeen months later, Kindlon was censured by the Committee, saying he “engaged in undignified and/or discourteous conduct, as well as conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer.” The censure also states that Kindlon “did not seek, nor was he ever granted, permission by the prosecutor to examine, handle or photograph the document.
Since 1997, Kindlon has received three letters of caution from the Committee. Letters of caution are not released to the public, so there is no knowing what he was cautioned for.
Other than being censured or cautioned, New York lawyers can face other punishments for their actions. Admonishment, which is less serious than being censured, is not made to the public. More serious than being censured is a suspension, and of course, disbarment. Kindlon told the Times Union, “I regret this happened and I unconditionally accept responsibility.”