On an Order to Show Cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.
For suspension -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Clifford, Schreiber, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern and Garibaldi. Opposed -- None.
This disciplinary matter was originally before us on January 12, 1982, the return day of an order to show cause why the respondent, a member of the bar of this State, should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined because of his allegedly inappropriate conduct involving five different matters. We were satisfied upon our review at that time that a substantial suspension period was warranted. (The Disciplinary Review Board had recommended a two-year suspension.) We were advised then that five additional complaints against the respondent were pending before the District Ethics Committee. We therefore suspended the respondent temporarily commencing January 21, 1982 pending completion of those proceedings.
The District Ethics Committee held hearings on the additional complaints. The entire matter was then reconsidered by the Disciplinary Review Board, which recommended that respondent be suspended for a three-year period, commencing as of January 21, 1982. After our initial review we remanded one aspect of the cause, possible misappropriation of trust funds, for a further hearing before the District Ethics Committee. This has been completed and we have had oral argument on the entire record.
Based on our independent review, we have come to the same conclusions as the Disciplinary Review Board on the Moretti, Schultz, Medaska, Koehl, Cherevas, Messimer, Oskoniewski complaints and the proctorship matter. We adopt the Board's following findings and conclusions in those respects:
Beginning in March of 1978, the respondent was retained by Salvatore Moretti to represent him personally and to represent his company, the ROR Construction Corporation, in three separate matters.
1.) MORETTI v. BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF HACKENSACK AND FRIENDSHIP HOUSE
Moretti retained the respondent to institute suit against the Board of Adjustment of Hackensack and Friendship House in connection with a zoning variance. A complaint was filed in April 1978 with the Superior Court, Law Division, Bergen County. On October 25, 1978, the complaint was dismissed by the Honorable Theodore Trautwein, J.S.C. for failure to prosecute, since respondent neither served nor attempted to serve the summons and complaint. Although respondent thereafter communicated with his client on numerous occasions, he failed to advise Moretti that the matter had been dismissed. To the contrary, respondent advised Moretti that a hearing was scheduled for November 17, 1978. Moretti retained new counsel in April of 1979.
2.) ROR CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION v. BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT AND JADEMOR INDUSTRIAL COMPANY
Respondent was also retained by Moretti to represent ROR Construction Company in a suit against Jademor Industrial Company and the Hackensack Board of Adjustment. Although respondent prepared and filed a complaint, docketed as L-323-78, with the Superior Court, Law Division, Bergen County, he failed to serve the summons and complaint upon the defendants. Respondent then misrepresented the status of the case to his client on several occasions by stating that they were awaiting a court date.
In April 1979, the file was turned over to Moretti's new counsel.
3.) MORETTI ET ALS v. MULTI-PAK CORPORATION
In a third case, Moretti retained respondent to institute suit against Multi-Pak Corporation to obtain a restraining order to prevent Multi-Pak from maintaining a nuisance. A complaint
was never filed, although the complainant testified that respondent had advised to the contrary. The respondent denied so advising his client. He testified that he was told by the law clerk to the Bergen County Chancery Judge that more than one affidavit was necessary to obtain a restraining order. Respondent claimed to have so advised his client.
In addition, respondent stated that the attorney for Multi-Pak had verbally agreed that the company would institute noise abatement procedures. That agreement was not confirmed in writing. Respondent testified that until his client again complained to ...