Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Jurisdiction At Issue

The New Jersey Supreme Court has imposed reciprocal disbarment of an attorney based on a Pennsylvania sanction.

The matter is somewhat unusual in that, while Pennsylvania found multiple ethics violations, none involved misuse of entrusted funds.

Rather, the problems lay elsewhere, as described by the Disciplinary Review Board.

The attorney was already subject to an indeterminate suspension for withdrawing from a criminal case on the eve of trial

The email also contained multiple accusations of prosecutorial misconduct, in addition to numerous “sovereign citizen” elements.

In that matter

We determined that respondent’s most serious ethics infraction was her improper and unilateral termination of the representation of her client, on the eve of his criminal jury trial, and determined that a three-month suspension was the appropriate quantum of discipline for respondent’s misconduct. However, the Court imposed an indeterminate suspension after respondent failed to appear on its Order to Show Cause

She is subject to a bench warrant in a criminal case involving her landlord

In 2014, respondent leased an apartment from Francine Beyer. According to the signed lease agreement, respondent agreed to pay Beyer $1,500 in rent per month. However, respondent subsequently informed Beyer she was not required to pay any rent because she was an “aboriginal indigenous Moorish American” and, therefore, “owned it all.” Besides providing the first and last month’s rent as a deposit, respondent did not pay any rent to Beyer after signing the lease.

Criminal charges ensued when she and three others broke into the apartment

Respondent was charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and criminal conspiracy.

On June 2, 2015, a preliminary hearing on the criminal charges was held before the Honorable David C. Shuter. At the beginning of the hearing, respondent was uncooperative, refused to identify herself, and refused to stand or walk to the front of the court when the judge called her case. Additionally, during the hearing, respondent and her co-defendants shouted and waved Moorish flags.

She and the co-defendants sued 51 defendants (including the landlord and her attorney) in a suit found to be frivolous

On July 27, 2015, counsel for Kupersmith and other defendants filed a motion to dismiss respondent’s complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. By order dated August 20, 2015, United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond dismissed respondent’s complaint, in its entirety, with prejudice. Judge Diamond specifically found that respondent’s claims were without merit.

In the Pennsylvania bar matter

Furthermore, respondent asserted that the ODC had not established that it had authority to file an ethics action against her and therefore, in her reply to the DB-7 letter, “move[d] for a DECLARATORY JUDGMENT against Susan Kupersmith and The Office of Disciplinary Counsel.” Respondent accused the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of discriminating against indigenous people, and “engaging in fraud, corruption, bribery, racketeering and rendering unjust judgment for the sake of profiting et cetera.”

Respondent also alleged that her attorney in the eviction action, along with Kupersmith had “conspired and attempted to: 1) Commit Murder; 2) Commit Fraud; 3) Commit Theft; 4) Engage in Bribery and Extortion.” Therefore, respondent asserted that Kupersmith “decided to utilize filing a ‘Complaint’ with the ‘Disciplinary Board’ in an attempt to advance her sodomizing murderous agenda to continue raping, robbing, and stealing from the public and particularly the Indigenous people.”

DRB on sanction

This matter raises a question of first impression in New Jersey – what is the appropriate discipline for an attorney who repeatedly claims, despite her status as an officer of the court, that she is not subject to the jurisdiction of state courts and disciplinary authorities, yet, attempts to use the court systems (state and federal), government agencies, and the rule of law as a means to achieve her personal objectives. Based on a review of disciplinary precedent, respondent is the first sovereign citizen attorney encountered by us and the Court in connection with attorney disciplinary matters, and this is her second matter before us.

...in this matter of first impression, we are presented with an attorney who once showed adherence to the rule of law. Indeed, the record shows that, at one point, respondent credibly applied her legal acumen to earn admission to the bars of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. At some point, for reasons unknown, respondent determined that not only was she no longer subject to the jurisdiction of courts or attorney disciplinary authorities, but that the rule of law no longer applied to her. Thus, after close examination of the unique and egregious facts of her misconduct, we are left to conclude that disbarment is the only appropriate sanction in this matter.

To begin, we acknowledge that attorneys, like all citizens, may argue against specific or general application of a rule to themselves or others. No matter what views or vision for change an individual may espouse within a locality, state, or nation, all citizens are entitled to advocate for change within the rule of law. However, respondent, as an attorney, had the further obligation to advocate for herself and her clients within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Thus

On this record it is clear that respondent has not acted in conformity with the rule of law or standards of the profession for at least the past eight years, and has indicated that she will not in the future. She has abandoned her oath of office and has emphatically articulated her belief that she is not subject to the jurisdiction of disciplinary authorities. Therefore, we determine that respondent could never practice in conformity with the standards of the profession. We find that the reputation of the bar cannot tolerate individuals who abandon the very oaths that we take upon admission.

New York also has imposed disbarment. (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/07/the-new-jersey-supreme-court-has-imposed-reciprocal-disbarment-of-an-attorney-based-on-a-pennsylvania-sanction-the-matter-i.html

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