Grievance Against Taylor Piscionere

Who: A group of law professors filed an ethics complaint in May 2021 against attorney Taylor Piscionere, alleging Piscionere engaged in misconduct while prosecuting Wesley Marques on behalf of the Queens District Attorney’s Office (QDAO). The complaint was filed with the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh & Thirteenth Judicial Districts, the body that handles ethics complaints against attorneys in the Queens. The following summary is based on the complaint.

What: The ethics complaint, also known as a grievance, is based on the Appellate Term case People v. Marques. According to the complaint, the Appellate Term, Second Department found Piscionere’s conduct in Marques to be sufficiently improper to require reversal of the jury’s verdict. According to the complaint, the Appellate Term found that when Piscionere prosecuted Wesley Marques, her “consistent theme” in the case was to improperly “garner sympathy” for the complainant and “appeal to the jurors.” In doing so, she “substantially prejudiced [Marques’] rights.” The complaint alleges that the Appellate Term specifically found evidence of her improper tactics in her summation—in which she made several inflammatory comments—and in testimony she elicited.

What rules are involved: The complaint notes that prosecutors wield immense power, the power to seek punishment on behalf of the state, and should be held to the highest ethical standards. The grievance alleges that Piscionere’s conduct violated the following ethical rules:

  • Rules 8.4(d) and 8.4(h) of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct require that a lawyer not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.

What can be done about it: The law professors’ complaint calls for the Grievance Committee to investigate and issue public discipline, including suspension. It also calls for a broader investigation into other cases prosecuted by the same prosecutor, and to determine whether QDAO’s supervising and managing attorneys complied with their duties under Rule 5.1 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.

Update: As of January 1, 2024, the Grievance Committee has not informed the complainants whether there was (or will be) an investigation, what any investigation revealed, and whether discipline was (or will be) imposed as a result of this alleged misconduct. Deprived of such information, the public has no way to evaluate whether this government body is doing its job. We call on the Grievance Committee to make its proceedings and findings in this matter transparent to the public.

Any member of the public is able to see an attorney’s record of public discipline on the Attorney Detail Report.

Note: This is a summary based on the grievance, click on the grievance below for more detail. The grievance authors do not have personal knowledge of any of the facts or circumstances of the attorney or case(s) mentioned; the grievance is based on court opinions, briefs and/or other documents cited therein.