February 2, 2011
Reprimand Not Imposed For Possible Knowing Misappropriation
The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with its Disciplinary Review Board ("DRB") and remanded a matter in which the Office of Attorney Ethics ("OAE") had sought a reprimand. The issue that merits further consideration is whether the stipulated facts establish a knowing misappropriation.
The case involves a former Ravin, Sarasohn non-equity partner who moved to Lowenstein Sandler in 2000, shortly before the Ravin firm disbanded.
The attorney had provided bankruptcy advice to Milberg Weiss and received a check for $217,639.50 for his legal services. The two firms each had entitlement to a portion of the fee. The attorney deposited the check in a personal account and paid the Lowenstein firm its share about a month later. He did not notify the Ravin firm of the fee and did not keep the proceeds intact.
The OAE took the position that the facts did not support a charge of knowing misappropriation. The DRB disagreed and recommended appointment of a special prosecutor or special master to prosecute the case:
We agree that to require the OAE to prosecute a case on charges that it believes are unwarranted would put that office in what OAE counsel termed a awkward position.
The court did not follow the special prosecutor proposal and directed the DRB to determine appropriate discipline based on the stipulation before it.
Note that the court's order follows the DRB recommendation. (Mike Frisch)
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