May 2, 2012
In The Name Of The Father
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded an attorney in a matter where the Disciplinary Review Board ("DRB") found he displayed a lack of diligence but dismissed other charges.
Before the district ethics committee ("DEC") hearing, the panel chair disclosed that the respondent had been in law partnership with the chair's father. The chair set a deadline for objections to his participation beyond which the issue would be deemed waived. The respondent did not respond in time but pressed an objection at the hearing, noting that he had filed a federal suit against the chair's father. The suit was resolved many years ago.
Most troubling, respondent intentionally withheld $1,000 from [his client] funds he knew were due and owing to his client, because he was "pissed off" by the letters and telephone messages that he had received from [him] and his new counsel. Even the threat of an ethics grievance did not convince him to refund [the client's] money. Such conduct is at odds with the standards governing attorneys. Similarly, he displayed a lack of regard for the disciplinary system by waiting until the ethics hearing to move to disqualify the panel chair from the case, despite having received a letter, two months earlier, notifying him that his failure to file a motion by a date certain would be deemed a waiver.
The DEC has recommended a six-month suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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