On order to show cause why the respondent should not be disciplined.
For disbarment -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld and Burling. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Vanderbilt, C.J.
[9 NJ Page 270] The respondent, Abraham J. Isserman, was admitted as an attorney-at-law of this State in 1923 and as a counsellor in 1926. On October 25, 1949, Isserman was noticed to appear before the Ethics Committee of the Essex County Bar Association on November 3, 1949. He did not appear personally but was represented by counsel who offered various documents in evidence. On November 7, 1949, the Ethics Committee of the Essex County Bar Association presented to this court for disciplinary action the conviction of the respondent on October 14, 1949, United States v. Sacher, 9 F.R.D. 394 (1949), for contemptuous conduct during the [9 NJ Page 271] course of the trial of 11 communist leaders in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, see United States v. Foster, affirmed on appeal sub nom., United States v. Dennis, 183 F.2d 201 (C.C.A. 2 1950); 341 U.S. 494 (1951). On April 24, 1950, following the affirmance by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of the respondent's conviction on all but one of the seven specifications with which he was charged, United States v. Sacher, 182 F.2d 416 (1950), we issued an order to show cause returnable May 8, 1950. On the return date, because of an application then pending for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, we continued without date argument on the order to show cause. On June 7, 1951, after the denial of review by the United States Supreme Court, Sacher v. United States, 341 U.S. 952 (1951), a new order to show cause was issued returnable June 18, 1951, and the matter was fully argued on the return day. Immediately thereafter and before the matter could be decided by us it was represented to us by the respondent that an application for reargument had been made to the United States Supreme Court. Accordingly, on June 25, 1951, we continued the rule to show cause until the application for reargument should have been disposed of, and pending such disposition suspended the respondent from the practice of law in this State. On January 3, 1952, the respondent was suspended for two years from the practice of law before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York as the result of disciplinary proceedings prosecuted before that court by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York County Lawyers Association, In re Sacher and Isserman (not officially reported). On October 22, 1951, as a result of the petition for reargument, the United States Supreme Court vacated its previous order denying certiorari and granted a limited review, Sacher v. United States, 342 U.S. 858 (1951), and on March 10, 1952, it rendered its decision affirming the respondent's conviction, Sacher v. United States, 72 S. Ct. 451 (1952). Following this action
by the United States Supreme Court and in accordance with our order of June 25, 1951, our order to show cause was noticed for disposition on March 17, 1952. At that time counsel for the respondent presented to the court and opposing counsel an 11-page document entitled "Amended and Supplemental Answer" and copies of the opinion of the United States Supreme Court handed down on March 10, 1952. Notwithstanding the fact that the respondent had been given an opportunity to be heard before the Ethics Committee of the Essex County Bar Association on November 3, 1949, but had not availed himself of it, contenting himself with appearing by counsel who presented evidence, and notwithstanding that the matter was argued at length before this court on June 18, 1951, the respondent, through counsel, insisted on "an adequate opportunity to be heard and to present evidence on other matters in his defense on the issues before the court in this proceeding."
It is not necessary to recount here the precise nature of the respondent's contemptuous acts for which he has been convicted, for they are detailed in the opinion of the Court of Appeals affirming his conviction and are further commented on by the United States Supreme Court in its decision of March 10, 1952. Suffice it to say that Judge Harold R. Medina, before whom the case of United States v. Foster was tried and by whom the respondent was convicted, found that the conduct of the respondent and his associate defense counsel:
"* * * constituted a deliberate and willful attack upon the administration of justice, an attempt to sabotage the functioning of the federal judicial system, and misconduct of so grave a character as to make the mere imposition of fines a futile gesture and a wholly insufficient punishment."
He found, and Judge Augustus N. Hand of the Court of Appeals concurred in his finding, that they:
"* * * joined in a willful, deliberate, and concerted effort to delay and obstruct the trial * * * for the purpose of causing such
disorder and confusion as would prevent a verdict by a jury on the issues raised by the indictment; and for the purpose of bringing the Court and the entire Federal judicial system into general discredit and disrepute, by endeavoring to divert the attention of the Court and jury from the serious charge against their clients * * *."
Judge Jerome N. Frank of the Court of Appeals characterized the respondent's acts as:
"* * * outrageous conduct -- conduct of a kind which no lawyer owes his client, which cannot ever be justified, and which was never employed by those advocates, for minorities or for the unpopular, whose courage has made lawyerdom proud. The acts of the lawyers for the defendants in this trial can make no sensible man proud."
Judge Charles E. Clark of the Court of Appeals, although he dissented from the affirmance of the respondent's contempt convictions for procedural reasons, labeled the conduct of the respondent and his associates as "abominable." Mr. Justice Jackson, speaking for the majority of the United States Supreme Court, which was concerned only with the procedural aspects of the respondent's conviction and not with the ...