Friday, December 16, 2011

The New Jersey approach to sanctions

As Mike Frisch of the Legal Profession Blog recently stated, "there was a time when New Jersey had the reputation for being tough on attorney misconduct. That time has obviously long since passed."  His comment was prompted by a couple of new cases that display what he called "the forgiving nature of attorney discipline in New Jersey."

In the first case, an attorney had been suspended for three months but failed to file the required affidavit demonstrating compliance with the suspension order. He then failed to participate in the ensuing bar proceedings. The Office of Attorney Ethics sought a three-month suspension but the Disciplinary Review Board concluded that no further suspension was appropriate.

In the second case, the attorney was censured for "engaging in the practice of issuing trust checks against uncollected funds" which resulted in negligent misappropriation. He had been reprimanded in 1998 for filing false unemployment insurance claims and again in 2009 for a conflict of interest and failure to withdraw from representation. As a result, while claiming that the attorney's "cavalier attitude toward the disciplinary system cannot be tolerated," the imposed sanction was merely a reprimand.

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