December 31, 2010

Local lawyer's license suspended


MALONE — A former Franklin County public defender has had his license to practice law suspended for a year by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

William J. McCallig, 43, who now lives in Gloucester, Mass., pleaded guilty on Aug. 19, 2009, to a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching for fondling several female county employees while they were at The Pines tavern on Bare Hill Road seven months earlier.

He was sentenced in the summer of 2009 in Malone Town Court to a one-year conditional discharge and a $200 fine.


The guilty plea prompted the Committee on Professional Standards to petition the Third Department of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in November on charges of professional misconduct.

The court's unanimous decision was rendered by Justices John Lahtinen of Plattsburgh, Edward Spain, E. Michael Kavanagh, Leslie Stein and Elizabeth Garry.

"We find him guilty of engaging in illegal conduct reflecting adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice," the ruling states.

"We determine that, to deter similar misconduct and preserve the reputation of the bar, (McCallig) should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year, effective immediately."


But, the judges added, McCallig can earn a stay of that order if he is evaluated by either Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Inc. in Massachusetts or the New York State Bar Association Lawyers Assistance Program and successfully completes their recommendations.

Whichever oversight group he selects, McCallig must also be sure a report is generated every six months to show his progress. The report must be filed with the Committee on Professional Standards.

Once the year is up, McCallig can apply to the Appellate Division to have his license suspension ended, as long as he can show he successfully completed the imposed conditions.

McCallig was admitted to the New York State Bar in May 2005 and served as public defender for a few months in 2007 following the sudden resignation of Mark McCormick and before current Public Defender Thomas Soucia was hired.


He was originally arrested on three counts of forcible touching in separate incidents at The Pines.

According to complaints at the time of his arrest, he approached a 30-year-old woman who was the designated driver for the group of co-workers. McCallig touched her hair and moved suggestively against her, touching her vagina through her clothing.

She moved away from him, but McCallig approached her table companions and put his arm around a second woman and kissed a third female on the top of the head.

When the designated driver went to get another drink two other times during the evening, the attorney approached her each time.

At first, he touched her breast, then pinned her to the bar and began to grind his hips into her from behind. She broke away but was accosted about 45 minutes later when McCallig slapped her on the rear end.

A 26-year-old woman said he grabbed her rear end twice and ran his fingers through her hair, and a 27-year-old woman said he came up behind her as she ordered a drink and began to grind his body against her.

A special prosecutor was named to handle the case because of a conflict on interest with the office of County District Attorney Derek Champagne.

The website for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court shows McCallig was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts Dec. 11, 2003, but that his license there is "administratively suspended."

E-mail Denise A. Raymo at: