On presentment from the Bergen County Ethics and Grievance Committee.
For suspension for three years -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Heher, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs, Francis and Proctor. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.
The respondent Nicholas D. Introcaso, Jr., is a member of the bar of this State and practices law in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Ethics and Grievance Committee of Bergen County, after a number of hearings, found him guilty of violating Canons 27, 28, 34 and 22 of the Canons of Professional Ethics and presented the matter to this court for disciplinary action.
These canons declare that it is unprofessional for a lawyer to solicit employment through "touters" (Canon 27); that it is "disreputable" to "employ agents or runners" to bring or to influence the bringing of cases to his office (Canon 28); and that it is improper to divide "fees for legal services, * * * except with another lawyer, based upon a division of service or responsibility" (Canon 34). Canon 22 requires that "the conduct of the lawyer before the Court * * * should be characterized by candor and fairness."
Tersely stated, the substance of the charge against respondent is that he employed a touter or runner to produce criminal cases for defense by him. The matter was processed before the committee in two distinct stages.
In the first of the two series of hearings, Joseph Miskiewicz, Mrs. Hedwig Nealon and Julius Zeuner gave testimony which pointed to the fact that Introcaso had used a runner to induce them to retain him in criminal cases in which they were interested. Miskiewicz had been arrested in Bergen County on a gambling charge, a minor son of Mrs. Nealon had been held as a material witness in connection with a gas station robbery, and Zeuner's son had been apprehended on charges of breaking and entering. In Miskiewicz' case, the touter employed the name Farrell, and with Mrs. Nealon and Zeuner, the name Mahr. All three (who were not at all hostile to Introcaso) asserted
that after being contacted by telephone, they visited Introcaso's office, where Farrell or Mahr was present at their conferences with Introcaso about their cases. However, there was no express recognition or admission in their presence by Introcaso that Mahr or Farrell was responsible for his being retained. Nor was there any conversation about fee splitting during the witnesses' visits, although in the Zeuner matter some proof appeared as to a later but related transaction which was clearly susceptible of such an inference.
The most significant circumstances that came from the testimony of these witnesses was their identification of the touter. Although they had no connection with each other and, of course, had visited Introcaso's office on different occasions, they gave remarkably similar descriptions of the individual. And the descriptions were such as to leave no doubt that they were speaking of the same man.
Testifying in his own behalf, Introcaso admitted his professional appearances for Miskiewicz, Mrs. Nealon and Zeuner. But he repeatedly and categorically denied knowing a man named Farrell or Mahr, or any one of his description. At one point the description as furnished by the witnesses was given to him and he was asked, "Without regard to the name, do you know any person of such description?" The reply was, "No, I swear on my solemn oath."
He did state, however, that a man of Mahr's description had accompanied Mrs. Nealon when she came to his office but that he had never seen the man before, and thought he was a friend of Mrs. Nealon. He denied that Miskiewicz and Zeuner had been in his office with Mahr, or with any one of that description. He stated also that he had never employed a runner and had never paid any one to bring cases to him.
Further testimony of a corroboratory nature, which need not be detailed here, was offered on both sides of the issue. On September 21, 1956 a presentment was filed finding Introcaso guilty of unethical and unprofessional conduct in ...