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Ethics for Government Lawyers 2019

Speaker(s): David Sarratt, Jeremy S. Garber, Karen Griffin, Orelia E. Merchant
Recorded on: Feb. 28, 2019
PLI Program #: 251576

Orelia E. Merchant (personal capacity) currently serves as Chief Deputy Attorney General for State Counsel, a member of the New York State Attorney General’s executive team.  Ms. Merchant heads the Division of State Counsel, which consists of five bureaus statewide that handle litigation involving the State, including its agencies and officials.

From 2002 to 2019, Ms. Merchant served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she had a record of distinguished service.  She most recently served as an Executive Assistant United States Attorney with direct oversight of the Office’s Civil and Administrative Divisions, providing counsel with regard to a variety of significant cases and matters handled by the Office and non-litigation matters impacting the Office’s operation.  During her tenure as an AUSA in the Civil Division, Ms. Merchant managed a diverse, demanding, and complex caseload, handling cases in virtually every civil practice area.  She has prosecuted asset forfeiture, environmental, health care fraud, and mortgage fraud cases, and defended employment discrimination, medical malpractice, bankruptcy, immigration, personal injury, prisoner litigation, constitutional challenges, and federal program litigation cases.  Ms. Merchant received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an AUSA – Civil from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in 2016.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Merchant served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions, prosecuting general crimes, violent and drug crimes, criminal environmental cases, and defending the government in tort and employment discrimination actions.  She also served as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, in Chicago, Illinois.  

Ms. Merchant is a graduate of Tulane University Law School, received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Dillard University, and a Master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary.

Jeremy S. Garber is Special Trial Attorney at the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, where he has been a staff attorney since 1990.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1975, his Master’s in Middle Eastern Languages from Columbia University in 1981 and his law degree in May, 1985 from the University of Michigan.  Thereafter, he worked for two years in the corporate department of Schulte, Roth & Zabel and two years in the legal department of the American Jewish Congress.

Mr. Garber was the Committee’s staff attorney in disciplinary cases involving a range of attorney misconduct or infirmity: Matter of Kavanagh, 189 AD2d 521 (1st Dept 1993)(ethnic slurs against opposing counsel in civil litigation);  Matter of Colp, 185 AD2d 43 (1st Dept 1993)(real estate attorney suffering from paranoid delusions); Matter of Freedman, 208 AD2d 325(1st Dept 1995) (large scale neglect and deceit in immigration practice);  Matter of Wong, 275 AD2d 1 (1st Dept 2000)(sexual abuse of minor by law student prior to his admission to the Bar); Matter of Weinstein, 4 AD3d 29 (1st Dept 2004)(deceit and double billing in guardianship proceedings); Matter of Boter, 46 AD3d 1 (1st Dept 2007)(personal injury lawyer paying non-lawyers for client referrals, settling cases without clients’ consent, forging and falsely notarizing client signatures);  Matter of Larsen, 50 AD3d 41 (1st Dept 2008)(matrimonial attorney engaging in conflicts of interest and gross over billing); Matter of Shearer, 94 AD3d 128 (1st Dept 2012) (medical malpractice attorney deceitfully attempting to breach his legal fee agreement with co-counsel.); Matter of Meyers, 108 AD3d 158 (1st Dept 2013)(immigration attorney neglecting clients’ cases and then deceptively providing them with false USCIS filing and receipt numbers from unrelated cases.); Matter of Teichberg, 121 AD3d 319 (1st Dept 2014) (collection attorney, who is discharged by his creditor client, continuing to collect from the debtor and misappropriating the funds as claimed legal fees.); Matter of Schnall, 146 AD3d 81 (1st Dept 2016)(attorney failed to file and pay state and federal income tax for almost ten years, claiming that income earned in the practice of law was not taxable.); Matter of Marshall, 153 AD3d 1 (1st Dept 2017)(attorney who missed filing deadline, misrepresented to client and Committee that he had settled the case.)

David Sarratt is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department. He is a seasoned trial lawyer whose practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations and complex civil litigation. Mr. Sarratt has significant experience in the technology sector and is recommended by The Legal 500 US for Technology: Data Protection, Privacy and Cyber Law (2016).

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Sarratt served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 2010 to 2014. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Sarratt supervised and participated in a wide variety of investigations and prosecutions, involving international terrorism, cyber crime, financial and health care fraud, racketeering and other crimes. He successfully tried numerous cases to verdict and briefed and argued appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

Mr. Sarratt served as a law clerk for the Hon. Douglas H. Ginsburg, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, from 2004 to 2005, and for the Hon. John Gleeson, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, from 2005 to 2006. 

Mr. Sarratt received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was an Articles Editor of the Virginia Law Review. He earned a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Virginia in 2000.

Karen Griffin is the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Counsel for the New York City Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, where she has worked since 1995. She is in the Legal Counsel Division and is responsible for counseling and training City attorneys in a wide array of legal ethics and professional responsibility matters. Karen is the Chair of the Law Department’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Ethics and served on the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics from 2012-2016. Prior to her current role, Karen was a member of the Law Department’s Appeals Division and its Tax & Bankruptcy Litigation Division. In 1998, she was a recipient of the New York City Bar Association’s Municipal Affairs Award for outstanding achievement as an Assistant Corporation Counsel.