Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent New Jersey Supreme Court opinion which adopted the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board’s recommendation and disbarred a lawyer after 3 of his trust checks in the amount of $36.00 for phone sex were dishonored. The case is In re James P. Madden, No. D-17, 078323 and the Court’s January 4, 2017 opinion is here: http://drblookupportal.judiciary.state.nj.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?document_id=1079192. The Disciplinary Review Board’s September 30, 2016 opinion is: In re James P. Madden, No. DRB 16-010 at p. 26 (N.J. Sup. Ct. Disciplinary Rev. Bd. and is here: http://drblookupportal.judiciary.state.nj.us/DocumentHandler.ashx?document_id=1079192
The New Jersey disciplinary authorities began investigating the lawyer after receiving notice of overdrafts from the lawyer’s trust account. The overdrafts were caused by three $36.00 charges from UNI Information Inc., a provider of “adult entertainment” in the form of “‘phone sex talk.”
According to the Disciplinary Review Board’s Decision, from April 2010 through early 2013, the lawyer paid more than $14,000.00 from his trust account to UNI for the “adult entertainment”. The lawyer stated that he charged the phone sex calls to his trust account “because he had personal funds in the account, at that time, and did not have a business account, but was in the process ‘of reestablishing one as soon as possible’” The lawyer stated in a 2013 letter to the Office of Attorney Ethics that his mother had passed away in 2011 and he became depressed and had “little or no motivation.” He also provided evidence that he had been in “episodic psychotherapy” since 2011.
The Board’s Decision found that the lawyer had violated New Jersey Bar Rules in 5 separate client matters, commingled personal and client funds, and failed to cooperate and abide by a court order after failing to provide trust account documents and comply with an order to produce the trust documents, failure to keep proper records.
The Decision also found that the lawyer “continuously invaded client funds to support his alcohol, gambling, and phone sex proclivities.”) “(F)or respondent’s knowing misappropriation of client funds … we recommend respondent’s disbarment.” The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the Review Board’s Decision and disbarred the lawyer.
Bottom line: This another bizarre case involving a lawyer who took $14,000.00 from his trust account for phone sex. This lawyer appears to have completely lost control of his actions and his life and also tried to justify his actions with self-serving excuses.
Be careful out there and don’t do this please.
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Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
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Clearwater, Florida 33759
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