Monday, April 22, 2013

Progressive Discipline In Action, Suspension After Five Warnings

The New Jersey Supreme Court has adopted the recommendation of its Disciplinary Review Board and imposed a three-month suspension of an attorney with a long history of ethics violations.

The facts set forth in the DRB report could serve as a law school exam question (not for me, if my students are reading this) on how to mishandle a client trust account.

There were all sorts of problems, including the proverbial basement flood and allowing two people (one of former senator and client) to steal from the account.

According to the DRB:

He had no safeguards in place to secure his physical office or trust account records and checks, while he was absent from the office, and failed to notice the forgeries that occurred over a six-week period. Moreover, once he discovered the theft, he failed to take timely action to replenish the stolen funds by pursuing the bank or the individuals who had stolen the funds from him...

In fashioning the proper measure of discipline in this case, we considered that respondent has received two private reprimands, an admonition, and two censures and that he continues to make the same mistakes. His books and records have been reviewed by the OAE on four occasions. Each time, the OAE found recordkeeping infractions. He did not correct all of the prior infractions, even though he informed the OAE that he intended to do so...

The attorney also practiced while suspended and failed to communicate with a client. (Mike Frisch)

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