Thursday, September 26, 2013
The New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed a suspension of six months and until further court order in a matter involving gross neglect of five client matters.
The Disciplinary Review Board was unpersuaded that it was all the fault of the attorney's partner, who also has been suspended for ethics violations:
Over and over in these matters, we heard of Tunney and of his malfeasance. Respondent laid responsibility for the improprieties at his partner's feet, blaming Tunney for misrepresenting to him the work he had done on these cases and his communications with the clients. That may well have happened. Howver, in four of the five cases, these grievants were respondent's clients. The ultimate responsibility for the handling of their cases was his. in the fifth case...[a]t best, the responsibility was shared. Particularly, knowing Tunney's prior disciplinary history and his proclivity toward neglecting client matters, respondent should have been more pro-active and verified the truth of what Tunney was telling him. Respondent's contention that he should have been able to trust his law partner was misplaced, in light of his partner's past misdeeds.
The DRB also did not accept the attorney's claim that the fault lay with the U.S. Mail:
...despite those known [mail delivery] difficulties, he took no inititive to ascertain the status of his clients' cases, to their detriment."
The attorney had been censured twice prior to this sanction for similar misconduct. (Mike Frisch)