Schuyler County woman jailed for practicing law without state license

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Diane M. Secord, a former Schuyler County Town Justice, was sentenced late last week in Penn Yan Village Court to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty in June to practicing law without a license.

Secord, 56, was indicted by the Yates County Grand Jury in May for Practicing or Appearing as an Attorney-at-Law without being admitted or registered, a misdemeanor, for appearing in Yates County Family Court on Jan. 22 representing an individual other than herself.

Yates County District Attorney Jason Cook explains that as in many other states, it is a crime in New York to represent another person in a court of law without a license due to the complexities of the legal system and the significance that the state places on competent legal representation for its citizens. Though a former Hector Town Justice, Secord is not an attorney.

Secord had pled guilty as charged on June 10.

Cook prosecuted the case and presented the case to Grand Jury. Cook says he is pleased with both the defendant's conviction and the sentence imposed.

"In order to ensure that the law is evenly administered and fairly applied in every case, both judges and the communities that they serve must have every confidence that citizens appearing before the court have qualified and experienced legal counsel," said Cook, adding, "To accept less would be a disservice to those engaged in legal proceedings, and weaken the foundations of our legal system. This defendant's crime in misleading the court was an affront to the integrity of the judicial system"

Secord's jail sentence, which commenced on Saturday, is being served via the Yates County Sheriff's Weekend Alternative Program, or SWEAP, and will run through early October.