DS, signed "Richard M. Nixon," two pages, 8.5 x 14, January 23, 1976. Affidavit issued by Richard Nixon in an attempt to resign from the Bar of the State of New York. In full: “1. I was admitted to practice as an attorney and counsellor-at-law in the State of New York on December 5, 1963, at a term of the Appellate Division, held in the County of New York, State of New York, based in part of my admission to practice in the State of California.
2. In September of 1974, I resigned as a member of the State Bar of California and relinquished all rights to practice law in the State of California. The resignation was accepted by the Supreme Court of California on September 25, 1974.
3. On June 10, 1975, I tendered my resignation from the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, which resignation was accepted by Order of that Court dated June 29, 1975.
4. I have not practiced law for several years and do not intend to practice law in the future. It has been my intention and desire since September of 1974, and it is still my intention and desire, to resign from the Bar of the State of New York. Accordingly, I do hereby resign from the Bar of the State of New York, waiving any right which I may have to seek reinstatement or readmission to said Bar.
5. My decision to resign from the Bar of the State of New York stems from my desire and intention not to practice law now or in the future. It is thus freely and voluntarily rendered and not the product of duress or coercion. I am fully aware of the consequences of my resignation.
6. I have been made aware by Harold J. Reynolds, Chief Counsel to the Joint Bar Association Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District, that there is pending before that Committee a complaint by him that I have been guilty of misconduct, specifically, that I have refused to cooperate with Mr. Reynolds in the Committee’s investigation of William E. Griffin, Esq., by declining to furnish certain affidavits requested of me by Mr. Reynolds, and I am informed by Mr. Reynolds that I am the subject of an investigation by the Committee based upon that complaint.
7. I acknowledge that if a disciplinary proceeding were commenced against me upon the charge of Chief Counsel Harold J. Reynolds as referred to in paragraph 6 of this affidavit, supra, I could not successfully defend myself on the merits.
8. I respectfully request the Court to accept my resignation and to enter an Order striking my name from the roll of attorneys and counsellors-at-law in the State of New York as of the date of this affidavit, if it so please the court.” Signed at the conclusion in black ballpoint by Nixon, and countersigned by a notary public. In fine condition. Accompanied by a signed affidavit of procurement.
Disgraced after the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon made multiple attempts to resign from the Bar of the State of New York. None succeeded. In September 1974—the month after Nixon's resignation from the presidency—the Grievance Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York began an investigation into his misconduct, and ultimately brought charges against him in the First Department (Manhattan) of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. The charges resembled the Articles of Impeachment that had been drafted by the House Judiciary Committee, alleging misconduct in obstructing the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-in and concealing evidence in the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers case. In New York, state law required Nixon to acknowledge that he could not successfully defend himself against these pending charges in order for his resignation to be accepted. Nixon refused to do so, as it would mean admitting guilt in the Watergate case. Just as he had resigned from the presidency to avoid impeachment, he hoped to resign from the bar association to avoid disbarment.
In this affidavit, submitted to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department (Brooklyn), Nixon admits only that he could not defend against separate charges that he refused to cooperate in an investigation of the conduct of William E. Griffin, a Westchester County lawyer. The Second Department, 'in keeping with established principles of comity, deferred action on Mr. Nixon's attempted resignation pending the conclusion of the proceedings' in the First Department, where Nixon continued to refuse to submit a similar affidavit in response to the Watergate-related allegations.
On July 8, 1976, having received no response from Nixon on the Watergate accusations, the First Department sustained five charges against him and ordered that he be disbarred. In the published opinion, the judges noted that the 'respondent not alone has had full notice of these proceedings for a long time, but has so acknowledged by his abortive attempts, both here and in the Second Department, to circumvent the proceedings by submitting a resignation from the Bar, but which did not contain the required admission of culpability.' Finding that the 'evidence adduced in the case at bar warrants the imposition of the most severe sanction available to the court' they directed that 'that respondent should be disbarred.'
The next day, the New York Times observed that this marked 'the first time the former President has been found guilty by an official body of charges relating to Watergate.' With the proceedings in the First Department concluded, the Second Department was now permitted to consider this tender of his resignation. In their decision in the 'Matter of Nixon,' the court admitted that the present affidavit indeed 'contained the required prerequisites for consideration of Mr. Nixon's resignation.' However, seeing as Nixon had already been disbarred, the Second Department ruled that 'consideration of Mr. Nixon's offer to resign filed with this court, is rendered academic.'
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.