Friday, November 10, 2017

Pattern Of Serious Dishonesty: An Acceptable Risk In New Jersey?

I continue to be amazed at the disciplinary leniency in New Jersey.

A six-month suspension was the outcome of serious misconduct in an estate matter notable, if for no other reason, for the fact that the heirs were three children named Benjamin Jr, Benjamin III and Benjamin IV.

From the letter decision of the Disciplinary Review Board

From May 17, 2008 forward, respondent repeatedly counseled Jurado’s heirs to take unlawful "shortcuts" in administering the estate. On multiple occasions, he instructed Maria to forge her father’s name on deeds, title affidavits, and HUD-Is; he then notarized the HUD-I, falsely certifying that Benjamin Jr. had sworn to the authorization when, in reality, he was in a psychiatric hospital. Respondent, thus, violated RPC 1.2(d), RPC 4.1(a)(1), and RPC 8.4(c) and (d)...

 Respondent then falsely represented to both the District Ethics Committee and OAE investigators that he was unaware of the incapacitation of Benjamin Jr. until June 2009, and that Benjamin Jr. was present at the closing of the sale of Jurado’s prior residence. Respondent, thus, violated RPC 8.1(a).

Respondent’s most egregious misconduct was his calculated misrepresentations to both the Mercer County Surrogate’s Court and the buyers, title company, and other third parties involved in the sale of Jurado’s prior residence. In connection with his representation of the Jurado estate, he violated RPC 3.3(a)(i), (a)(4), and (a)(5), RPC 8.4(c), and RPC 8.4(d) by making misrepresentations, under penalty of perjury, to complete the administration of the estates.

After the usual sad survey of the prior sanctions landscape

In mitigation, respondent has no disciplinary history. Accordingly, the Board determined a six month suspension to be the proper quantum of discipline for respondent’s misdeeds.

The Supreme Court agreed. (Mike Frisch)

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