Federal Judge Pummels Lying Litigator In Unrelenting Courtroom Beatdown

In a remarkable courtroom pummeling, a federal judge today branded a notorious copyright lawyer an inveterate liar who undertook a “concerted campaign of deception” that has left her questioning the attorney’s “fitness to practice.”

In a 70-minute hearing in her White Plains, New York courtroom, Judge Cathy Seibel this morning delivered a blistering denunciation of Richard Liebowitz’s behavior in connection with a civil lawsuit he brought last year on behalf of a photographer.

As detailed in a TSG story published Monday, Liebowitz (seen at right) lied to Seibel when asked to explain why he failed to show up for an April 12 court hearing. Liebowitz claimed that his grandfather had died on the morning of the hearing, and that, “I needed to immediately arrange to be with my family during this difficult time.” Liebowitz told Seibel, “In the Jewish religion certain customs needed to be done before the Sabbath that I needed to assist in. I truly hope the Court understands this emergency.”

The truth, TSG discovered, was that Liebowitz’s maternal grandfather, 93-year-old Jaime Radusky, passed away the morning of April 9 at a Manhattan hospital.

Suspecting that Liebowitz was not being honest about the death of his kin, Seibel spent more than six months trying to get the attorney to provide proof of his grandfather’s demise. In repeated sworn court submissions, Liebowitz attested to the truthfulness of his claims, while refusing to provide Seibel with any of the documentation she requested (like a death certificate).

Flanked by a pair of criminal defense lawyers, Liebowitz appeared this morning in Seibel’s courtroom in response to a November 1 judicial order warning that he would be arrested if he failed to show up. Seibel’s order noted that she had already found him in contempt of two prior orders.

As she recounted the “whole sordid chronology” of the matter, Seibel referred to the “very tangled web of lies” spun by Liebowitz, who has filed more than 1000 federal copyright lawsuits during the past several years. Liebowitz, who founded a small Long Island law firm, has practiced for less than five years.

Referring to Liebowitz’s claim that his grandfather’s death came a day before the Sabbath--which purportedly required him to assist in certain Jewish religious customs--Seibel said this was when the lawyer “made the decision to tell an outright lie” in an effort to “intentionally deceive the court.” The judge added that Liebowitz “knows right from wrong,” but was not concerned about “staying on the right side of that line.”

Seibel, pictured at left, stated that Liebowitz knew he was lying about the date of his grandfather’s death, but “chose to repeat that lie six, eight, ten times” in court filings that the jurist said were part of a “long-term campaign of deception.” Liebowitz, Seibel remarked, “double-downed, triple-downed, quadrupled-downed, octupled-down, I don’t know what would come after that.”

“I question Mr. Liebowitz’s fitness to practice,” Seibel said at one point during the hearing.

Seibel said that it seemed Liebowitz thought that if he could drag the court proceedings out, that she would lose interest in him. Referring to the “multiple lies” offered by Liebowitz, Seibel said, “I’m sure he’s disappointed I didn’t go away.”

In an attempt to counter Seibel’s devastating dissection, Richard Greenberg, one of Liebowitz’s lawyers, said his client was “not playing with a full deck,” adding that he shared the judge’s “mystification” as to Liebowitz’s behavior. Greenberg claimed that Liebowitz “was in a daze” following his grandfather’s death, and that any misrepresentations on the lawyer’s part were not “intentful.”

Seibel dismissed that claim, noting that it was “completely implausible” that Liebowitz’s “haze” continued for the many months he “tried to wheedle his way out of the problem.”

Seibel was equally unsparing when Greenberg described Liebowitz as a “young, inexperienced, somewhat immature lawyer.” The jurist replied that she was “not really super-sympathetic” to the young lawyer argument, since attorneys know not to lie and understand their ethical responsibilities.

Noting the significance of a lawyer who “intentionally lies to the court,” Seibel said she has referred the Liebowitz matter to the Grievance Committee for review and possible disciplinary sanctions. Seibel added that her contempt rulings against Liebowitz will require him to disclose the sanctions to other courts and prospective clients.

In a letter to Seibel, Greenberg argued that the contempt findings against Liebowitz will damage his legal career.

Near the close of the hearing, Liebowitz briefly addressed Seibel, saying he was “really, really sorry” and that his repeated misstatements were “really an honest mistake.”

Seibel, however, was having none of it. “Stop kidding yourself,” she told Liebowitz after referring to his months and months of lies. “This was clearly not an honest mistake,” she said. Rather, it was a “concerted campaign of deception.”

During the hearing, Greenberg referred to a letter he submitted yesterday under seal to Seibel (who plans on publicly docketing the missive later today). In that communication, Greenberg reported that he “recommended Richard seek pyschotherapy,” as well as professional help in managing his firm. [11/14 UPDATE: Click here to download Greenberg’s 25-page submission to Seibel.]

Referring to those remedial efforts, Seibel suggested that Liebowitz bring the transcript from today’s hearing with him when he arrives for his initial session with a mental health professional. “You need to do some introspection,” she told Liebowitz. “It’s time to start facing the facts.”