Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded an associate attorney who mishandled a matter and made misrepresentations to the client.
The Disciplinary Review Board ("DRB") described the circumstances:
Respondent, an associate attorney in a law office owned by [another attorney], was assigned a case that involved legal issues with which he was unfamiliar. Instead of seeking [the other attorney's] advice or advising the supervising attorney that he could not handle the case, in September 2006, respondent filed a complaint in the wrong court. When the complaint was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in 2008, respondent "buried his head in the sand," taking no further action over the next eleven months to re-file the complaint in the proper forum....
The DRB noted that the attorney was not charged with misrepresentations to the client, but treated the conduct as an aggravating factor:
...on numerous occasions over the eleven months following the dismissal, respondent told his client a series of lies in order to obscure the actual status of the case. He even sent her a fabricated release for a supposed settlement, rather than tell her that the complaint had been dismissed. He also wrote two letters to third parties on behalf of [the client's] children, one to a school and the other to a landlord, falsely advising them that they could expect funds shortly out of a settlement that did not exist.
The attorney self-reported the misconduct, has undertaken to make restitution and expressed remorse. (Mike Frisch)