Wednesday, August 5, 2020
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ordered a three-month suspension of an attorney for ethical violations relating to his false testimony that he was a victim of domestic violence.
From the recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board
After respondent informed the court that his cousin had an audio-visual recording of the incident, Judge Velazquez asked to view it. Respondent admitted that the recording showed the entirety of the alleged domestic violence incident. Judge Velazquez reviewed the video and found that A.B. had not engaged in threatening conduct and that there was no evidence of the existence of a knife. Although respondent claimed that A.B. was blocking the camera, the judge remarked that the video showed respondent and his family members screaming at A.B. and attempting to illegally evict her from the house. Judge Velazquez dismissed the domestic violence complaint, admonished respondent on the record, and informed him that a referral to the OAE would follow.
Respondent initially denied to the OAE that he had testified before the hearing officer and the judge that A.B. had knives. However, after respondent reviewed the transcript of his testimony, he admitted that he had testified to the presence of the alleged knives.
Respondent then admitted to the OAE that he had not seen A.B. with knives during the January 13, 2019 incident. He insisted that his accompanying family members told him that they thought she had knives, although they did not see them. Respondent further admitted that he had wanted A.B. to move from the home, as their relationship had broken down, and that he was trying to evict A.B. by means of a TRO. He contended that A.B. was bullying and taking advantage of him, that his family had intervened to help him eject her from the residence, and that his family had encouraged him to file the TRO. Finally, respondent admitted that he should have filed an ejectment action, not a TR.
In aggravation, respondent failed to withdraw his false testimony, even after Judge Velazquez gave him the opportunity to review the evidence, and respondent failed to admit to the OAE that he had testified about the presence of knives until he was presented with the transcript. In mitigation, the stipulation noted that respondent had an unblemished disciplinary history; he eventually expressed regret for filing the TRO; his family members influenced his actions; respondent’s relatives, not respondent, were the aggressors toward A.B. during the January 13 incident; and respondent ultimately admitted his wrongdoing and agreed to file the motion for discipline by consent.