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In re Stern

Decided: October 22, 1979.

IN THE MATTER OF SHELDON STERN, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW


On an order to show cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

For disbarment -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Sullivan, Pashman, Clifford, Schreiber, Handler and Pollock. Opposed -- None.

Per Curiam

Respondent, Sheldon Stern, a member of the bar of this State, has been under temporary suspension since December 10, 1975 pending the completion of proceedings involving two complaints filed with the District Ethics Committee for the Counties of Burlington and Ocean.

Upon receipt of the Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board, we ordered that respondent show cause why he should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined

and heard oral argument on the return day. We have reviewed the record and exhibits, and we adopt the findings, conclusion and recommendation that respondent be disbarred.

The Board's Decision and Recommendation reads as follows:

This matter is before the Board based upon two presentments filed by the District Ethics Committee for the Counties of Burlington and Ocean. Both matters involved serious misrepresentations to clients and failure to properly represent the interests of clients. Upon a review of the full record, the Board is satisfied that the conclusions of the Committee in both matters are fully supported by clear and convincing evidence.

The offense charged in the first presentment had its inception in April 1970 when Martin A. Heffernan paid respondent a $500 retainer to institute suit against the Commercial Insurance Company. Subsequently respondent prepared a civil complaint captioned "Martin Heffernan v. Commercial Insurance Company". This complaint was never filed and legal proceedings were never initiated. Respondent furnished a copy of this complaint to Mr. Heffernan and falsely represented that he had instituted suit on his behalf.

Sometime later, respondent prepared what was purported to be an "Answer" to the phantom complaint. This answer was attributed to a Jersey City law firm. Respondent fabricated this answer to deceive his client into believing that legal proceedings had been instituted and were being processed.

In the later part of 1972, respondent prepared a false trial calendar in the Ocean County Court which scheduled the Heffernan matter for hearing on December 4, 1972. A copy of this list was furnished to Mr. Heffernan. This trial calendar was, in reality, an altered copy of a prior court calendar in which respondent blanked out one of the court cases and inserted the nonexistent case of Heffernan v. Commercial Insurance Company, together with a fictitious docket number.

On or about December 4, 1972, respondent prepared a letter adjourning the case of Heffernan v. Commercial Insurance Company. Respondent forwarded a copy of this letter to Mr. Heffernan. This letter emanated from the Ocean County Court and bore the signature of then Judge Richard A. Grossman. In actuality this letter was altered by respondent who inserted the name of the imaginary [ sic ] law suit and assigned a false adjourned date.

In early January 1973 respondent altered an actual court calendar for the Ocean County Court covering the dates January 22, 24, and 25, to include the Heffernan case. Respondent gave Mr. Heffernan a copy of this trial list and advised him to be present at the Ocean County Court House on January 25, 1973 at ...


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