Peters, et al v. Neroni
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER: It is ORDERED that the # 6 MOTION to Remand is GRANTED and that the attorney disciplinary proceeding In the Matter of Tatiana Neroni is REMANDED to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department. It is further ORDERED that any and all claims asserted by Tatiana Neroni, Esq. under 42 U.S.C 1983 are DISMISSED without prejudice. It is further ORDERED that the case is closed. Signed by Senior Judge Norman A. Mordue on 11/18/2013. (nmk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
KAREN PETERS, Chief Judge, New York State Supreme
Court, Third Judicial Department, in her official capacity, and
MONICA A. DUFFY, Chairperson, COMMITTEE ON
PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS, New York State Supreme
Court Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, in her
Hon. Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York
Bruce J. Boivin, Esq., Assistant New York State Attorney
Albany, New York 12224
Attorney for Plaintiffs
Tatiana Neroni, Esq.
Neroni Law Office
203 Main Street
Delhi, New York 13753
Defendant pro se
Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Senior U.S. District Judge:
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
In 2009, Tatiana Neroni, Esq. was admitted to practice law in the State of New York by
the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department (“Third
Department”). On January 29, 2013, the Committee on Professional Standards (“Committee”)
brought a disciplinary action against Attorney Neroni in the Third Department, pursuant to
section 90(2) of the New York Judiciary Law.1 The Notice of Petition and the Petition of Charges
and Specifications are both captioned as follows:
In the Matter of TATIANA NERONI , an
Attorney and Counselor-at-Law.
COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
Third Judicial Department, Petitioner,
(Attorney Registration No. 4650305)
The disciplinary petition charges Attorney Neroni with filing three frivolous motions, each of
which resulted in a sanction order by Delaware County Acting Supreme/Family Court Judge Carl
F. Becker, and with failing to pay the sanctions as ordered. The first order, dated June 30, 2011,
imposed a sanction of $1,250; the second, dated August 2, 2011, imposed a sanction of $2,500;
and the third, dated August 10, 2011, imposed a sanction of $1,250. The Third Department
affirmed all three sanction orders.
Before responding to the disciplinary petition, Attorney Neroni removed the proceeding to
this Court. Judge Peters and Attorney Duffy move (Dkt. No. 6) to remand the proceeding to the
Section 90(2) of the New York Judiciary Law provides in part:
The supreme court shall have power and control over attorneys and
counsellors-at-law and all persons practicing or assuming to practice law, and the
appellate division of the supreme court in each department is authorized to censure,
suspend from practice or remove from office any attorney and counsellor-at-law
admitted to practice who is guilty of professional misconduct, malpractice, fraud,
deceit, crime or misdemeanor, or any conduct prejudicial to the administration of
justice; and the appellate division of the supreme court is hereby authorized to
revoke such admission for any misrepresentation or suppression of any information
in connection with the application for admission to practice.
Third Department on the ground that federal district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
an attorney disciplinary matter brought under section 90(2) of the New York Judiciary Law.
The 26-page notice of removal (Dkt. No. 1) filed by Attorney Neroni in this Court is
captioned “Notice of Removal/Complaint/1983 Action.” It does not bear the same caption as the
disciplinary pleadings; rather, it designates Attorney Neroni as “plaintiff/petitioner” and names as
“defendants/respondents” Karen Peters, Chief Judge of the Third Department, in her official
capacity, and Monica A. Duffy, Chairperson, Committee on Professional Standards of the Third
Department, in her official capacity.
Insofar as the “Notice of Removal/Complaint/1983 Action” constitutes a notice under 28
U.S.C. 1446 removing the disciplinary proceeding to district court, the matter must be remanded
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in a
State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be
removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States[.]” The
party seeking removal bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction is proper. See
Montefiore Med. Ctr. v. Teamsters Local 272, 642 F.3d 321, 327 (2d Cir. 2011).
Attorney Neroni sets forth no basis upon which federal district court has original
jurisdiction over a state attorney disciplinary proceeding. Her reliance on 28 U.S.C. § 1443 is
misplaced. Section 1443 provides in full:
Any of the following civil actions or criminal prosecutions, commenced in a
State court may be removed by the defendant to the district court of the United
States for the district and division embracing the place wherein it is pending:
(1) Against any person who is denied or cannot enforce in the courts
of such State a right under any law providing for the equal civil rights
of citizens of the United States, or of all persons within the jurisdiction
(2) For any act under color of authority derived from any law
providing for equal rights, or for refusing to do any act on the ground
that it would be inconsistent with such law.
Section 1443 is plainly inapplicable in the instant case. It has long been established that the scope
of section 1443 is restricted to violations of explicit federal statutory and constitutional laws
guaranteeing racial equality for all citizens. See Johnson v. Mississippi, 421 U.S. 213, 227-28
(1975); Georgia v. Rachel, 384 U.S. 780, 792 (1966). The disciplinary proceeding herein
presents no such issue, and the matter must be remanded.
Attorney Neroni appears also to have intended her “Notice of Removal/Complaint/1983
Action” to be a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging New York State’s attorney
disciplinary procedure. This Court abstains and dismisses such claims under Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37 (1971). Younger abstention is mandatory where there is an ongoing state proceeding,
an important state interest is implicated, and the plaintiff has an avenue open in state court for
review of constitutional claims. See Spargo v. New York State Comm'n on Judicial Conduct, 351
F.3d 65, 75 (2d Cir. 2003). Here, all three elements are met. There is an ongoing state
proceeding involving regulation of attorney conduct, clearly an important state interest. See
Anonymous v. Association of the Bar of City of N.Y., 515 F.2d 427, 432 (2d Cir. 1975). As the
Second Circuit explains:
[T]he integrity of the bar is of public concern and the state which licenses
those who practice in its courts, and which is the only body that can impose
sanctions upon those admitted to practice in its courts, should not be deterred
or diverted from the venture by the interloping of a federal court.
Id. Further, Attorney Neroni has an avenue open in state court for review of her constitutional
claims; as the Second Circuit observed, “[w]hatever federal constitutional questions are involved
[in an attorney disciplinary proceeding] can certainly be raised in the state courts and ultimately
addressed to the Supreme Court.” Id.; accord Spargo, 351 F.3d at 77-79. Attorney Neroni has
not demonstrated the existence of unusual circumstances warranting an exception to the
application of Younger. Accordingly, all section 1983 claims are dismissed.
It is therefore
ORDERED that the motion (Dkt. No. 6) is granted and the attorney disciplinary
proceeding In the Matter of Tatiana Neroni is remanded to the New York State Supreme Court,
Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; and it is further
ORDERED that any and all claims asserted by Tatiana Neroni, Esq. under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 are dismissed without prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED that the case is closed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: November 18, 2013
Syracuse, New York
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?