Saturday, November 3, 2018
The New Jersey Supreme Court has censured an attorney for misconduct toward a client.
As detailed by the Disciplinary Review Board, the attorney represented a client facing criminal charges of sexual assault on four minors
In the days immediately prior to a jury trial scheduled for June 7, 2016, respondent communicated with his client in an attempt to collect outstanding fees, informing AM that respondent could not "provide an adequate defense" unless AM ......... paid respondent’s legal fees. Furthermore, in a text message, respondent warned AM that he would not prepare for the trial during the weekend immediately preceding it, unless he was first paid. He then wrote, "HAVE FUN IN PRISON." The maximum sentence that AM could have received exceeded 200 years.
As one might expect, this was brought to the trial judge's attention. The attorney withdrew and the trial was continued.
In a July 9, 2016 letter to the OAE, respondent admitted that his actions had been unethical, and asserted that, during the fourteen-month representation, AM had been uncooperative in ......preparing a defense to the charges and had refused a plea offer that respondent considered favorable.
The board noted that respondent was in a "difficult position" with a non-paying and uncooperative client but
respondent’s reaction to that predicament was one of defiance - to subvert the court’s directive by "poisoning" the representation on the eve of trial.
The court followed the board's sanction recommendation. (Mike Frisch)