On presentments from the Hudson County Ethics and Grievance Committee.
For disbarment -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Heher, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs, Francis and Proctor. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Weintraub, C.J.
[28 NJ Page 388] The Hudson County Ethics and Grievance Committee filed two presentments against respondent after hearings upon the separate complaints of Anna Yanover and Lawrence M. Saiewitz.
In a personal injury suit, respondent recovered a judgment for $5,000 on behalf of Sidney Yanover, brother of the complainant Anna. About mid-December 1957 respondent received checks from two carriers, each in the sum of $2,600.18, being one-half of the total paid in satisfaction. By letter dated December 13, 1957 counsel for one of the carriers delivered its draft upon the following terms:
"This draft is being forwarded to you with the understanding that you will retain sufficient funds from the proceeds to insure liquidation, settlement and release of all outstanding hospital, medical or other liens against James Noonan."
Respondent did not pay the mentioned lienors but rather immediately used the funds for his personal benefit. To justify this patent breach of trust, respondent says his client loaned to him his share of the proceeds, including the moneys due to the hospital and doctors, and that in respondent's opinion his client had the power thus to relieve him of his obligation. The record demonstrates the factual claim is as false as the legal proposition is frivolous. Indeed, the story of the "loan" is one of overreaching and fraud upon the client and constitutes the second phase of the matter.
Sidney Yanover, cousin of respondent, is a mute. According to his sister Anna, with whom Sidney has lived for many years, his mentality is "not even [that] of a 10 year old child." He had no schooling except for a period in a "deaf and dumb" school when he was 10 or 12 years old, and cannot read or write except to sign his name. Through the years he supported himself with odd menial jobs. His savings account revealed a meagre balance.
Respondent prepared a closing statement which Sidney signed. The expenses of trial were $188.50 which were deducted from $5,000, leaving a balance of $4,811.50. Of this, respondent claimed 50% pursuant to his retainer agreement, $2,405.75 thus remaining to be paid to or for the mute. The statement continues:
Bay. Hosp.'s bill 648.50 (will take 100 less)
Dr. Hertzberg 400. (agreed with Ins. Co.
Dr. Frank 350. (agreed with Ins. Co.
And due Sidney Yanover ...