Monday, March 21, 2011
A majority of the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board posed the following question:
What discipline is appropriate for an attorney who does not learn from prior mistakes and who refuses to conform to the standards of the profession? As noted above, in addition to the above discipline, respondent has already been suspended several times: three months in a 2006 default; one year in 2008 for two consolidated default matters; six months in in 2008 (effective May 7, 2009); and one year for a 2009 default matter (effective November 8, 2009). Considered in isolation, respondent's [gross neglect] toward his client would have merited no more than an admonition. But this is respondent's eighth ethics case and his fourth default. (citations omitted)
The board majority had an answer: disbarment. A minority favored a three year suspension with fitness.
The Supreme Court agreed with the minority and imposed the three year suspension with fitness, effective January 27, 2009. The attorney must be evaluated by the lawyers' assistance program and, if reinstated, not practice as a sole practitioner and under the supervision of an approved attorney.
There are places where the default alone will get an attorney disbarred. (Mike Frisch)