Although there are many articles and publications in print and on the Internet describing the contents of the UAA, most are extremely biased. One of the best brief objective summaries is by Joel D. Tenenbaum, who served as the ABA liaison to the NCCUSL UAA committee.
Joel was a recipient of the American Bar Association Presidential Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in Adoptions, 1996. He was a U.S. Magistrate, District of Delaware, 1973-1974. Assistant District Attorney, King's County, New York, 1967-1968. Counsel, New York State Constitutional Convention, 1967. Assistant Public Defender, Delaware, 1972-1973. Executive Director, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. Delaware, 1971-1972. Member, Governor's Task Force on Teen Pregnancy, 1989—. He is a fellow of the AAML, the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. Joel's membership includes Brooklyn, Delaware State, New York State and American (Chair, Family Law Section Adoption Committee, 2002-2003; Step Families Rights and Adoption Committee, 1993—; Liaison, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, 1989—; Uniform Adoption Act; Member, U.S. Department of State Study Group on Intercountry Adoption) Bar Associations; American Academy of Adoption Attorneys; International Bar Association.
In 1984, the Respondent was privately admonished for dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, because he testified as a witness in support of his claim for fees and knowingly misrepresented that records indicating the amount of time and services rendered to the client were destroyed as a result of a fire in the building in which his offices were located.
In 1995, the Respondent was privately admonished for knowingly failing to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure was necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client and for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice when in a Family Court matter he failed to disclose to the Court that his client had encumbered certain property with notes secured by mortgages.
In an opinion and order issued on August 5, 2005, the Delaware Supreme Court suspended Joel D. Tenenbaum for three years, retroactive to January 5, 2005, the date on which Tenenbaum ceased the practice of law. The Court approved a report from the Board on Professional Responsibility (“Board”), finding that Tenenbaum had violated the Delaware Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”). In imposing the maximum three-year period of suspension, the Court found as follows:
The evidence establishes that, during the past 5 - 10 years, Tenenbaum has sexually harassed female clients and employees, both verbally and physically........ Tenenbaum engaged in a pattern of illegal activities that harmed clients and employees. He has substantial experience as a Delaware lawyer, having been admitted to practice in 1972, and he has a prior, though unrelated, disciplinary record. Although the Court recognizes that Tenenbaum has experienced emotional problems and that he has a record of public service, the severity of his misconduct mandates a three-year suspension.
Former Rule 1.7(b): When representing a female client, Tenenbaum had a conflict of interest because his representation was materially limited by his personal interest in having sexual relations with the client;Rule 1.8(j) (which became effective July 1, 2003): Tenenbaum had sexual relations with a female client when he was prohibited from doing so because a consensual sexual relationship did not exist between them when the client-lawyer relationship began;Rule 8.4(a): Tenenbaum’s conduct with respect to a female client was an attempt to violate the Rule which prohibits sexual relations between a lawyer and a client unless a consensual sexual relationship did not exist between them when the client-lawyer relationship began; andRule 8.4(b): Tenenbaum engaged in criminal conduct which reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in that he sexually harassed and offensively touched a client and members of his law firm’s staff.
When Tenenbaum was suspended for three years, “the evidence establishe [d] that, during the past 5-10 years, Tenenbaum [had] sexually harassed female clients and employees, both verbally and physically.” 21 In this case, the clear and convincing evidence establishes that Tenenbaum engaged in felonious conduct that would subject him to possible imprisonment, except that a criminal prosecution is barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. This evidence and the evidence from the prior suspension proceeding demonstrate that, for more than two decades, Tenenbaum has committed egregious abuses of his female clients' trust, by engaging in a repeated and systematic pattern of sexual misconduct that was not only unethical but also unlawful. Accordingly, we are in complete agreement with the analysis and recommendation in the Board's Discipline Report. We conclude that any sanction other than disbarment would not provide the necessary protection for the public, serve as a deterrent to the legal profession, or preserve the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Delaware lawyers' disciplinary process.ConclusionIt is ordered that Joel D. Tenenbaum be disbarred from membership in the Delaware Bar. His name shall be immediately stricken from the Roll of Attorneys entitled to practice law before the courts of this State.