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In re Investigation

Decided: June 11, 1932.

IN THE MATTER OF AN INVESTIGATION BY THE BAR ASSOCIATION OF HUDSON COUNTY INTO THE ALLEGED UNETHICAL OR IMPROPER CONDUCT OF CERTAIN ATTORNEYS-AT-LAW


On rule to show cause.

For the rule, Collins & Corbin (Edward A. Markley, of counsel).

Contra, Edmund S. Johnson.

Before Justices Trenchard, Case and Brogan.

Case

The opinion of the court was delivered by

CASE, J. This matter comes up on rule, issued on the petition of B., an attorney-at-law of this state and a member of the Hudson County Bar Association, directing the committee on ethics, grievances and prosecutions, which is in fact the ethics committee of the Hudson County Bar Association, to show cause why the proceedings before that committee in an investigation of the "ambulance chasing" activities

and other unethical practices on the part of the attorneys of Hudson county should not be quashed so far as concerns the said B.

The printed state of case discloses that the Hudson County Bar Association, at a meeting held in December, 1930, adopted a resolution reciting "ambulance chasing" activities and other unethical practices of a serious character on the part of attorneys in that county and directing that a petition be filed with the Supreme Court calling the attention of the court to the condition and requesting the appointment of a Supreme Court commissioner or other officer to take testimony and investigate or the taking of other action thereon. At the May, 1931, term a petition based on that resolution was presented to and heard by the Supreme Court en banc. Within a few days thereafter, on May 9th, 1931, the chairman of the ethics committee received a letter from the Chief Justice stating:

"I am instructed by the court to advise you that, after a consultation had by its members, it was concluded that the method of investigation to be adopted by your association for ascertaining whether or not certain attorneys practicing in Hudson county were guilty of 'ambulance chasing' or other unethical conduct, should be that which is indicated by chapter 112 of the laws of 1930. Pamph. L. 1930, p. 360."

Chapter 112 (Pamph. L., 1930), is entitled: "An act empowering the Supreme Court to issue process to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses before the ethics committee of a duly recognized bar association or lawyers' club, providing the procedure in relation thereto, and penalties and punishment for refusal or failure to obey." The first section of the act provides that:

"Upon the application or petition to him, by the chairman of the duly authorized ethics committee of any county or state bar association or lawyers' club which has been recognized as such by the Supreme Court of this state as is hereinafter provided, setting forth that in an investigation before it into the alleged unethical or ...


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