This matter having come before the Court on an order to show cause why JOSEPH W. GALLAGHER of JERSEY CITY should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined for his violation of DR. 7-101(A)(2), DR. 6-101(A)(2) and misappropriation of clients' funds, and good cause appearing;
It is ORDERED that the Report of the Disciplinary Review Board recommending that respondent be disbarred is hereby adopted; and it is further
Ordered that JOSEPH W. GALLAGHER be disbarred and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys of this State, effective immediately; and it is further
Ordered that JOSEPH W. GALLAGHER be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law; and it is further
ORDERED that JOSEPH W. GALLAGHER comply with Administrative Guideline No. 23 of the Office of Attorney Ethics regarding suspended, disbarred or resigned attorneys; and it is further
Ordered that JOSEPH W. GALLAGHER reimburse the Office of Attorney Ethics for administrative costs, including production of transcripts.
Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board
To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey:
This matter is before the Board based upon a presentment filed by the District VI Ethics Committee which concerns numerous instances of misappropriation of client funds by respondent together with his failure to carry out contracts of employment.
The individual complaints upon which the presentment is based may be summarized as follows:
In September of 1977, the respondent was retained by Violet Rudowski to represent her in a divorce action. Over the next several months, Ms. Rudowski paid the respondent a total of $3,000 for his fee. Additionally, on July 10, 1978, Ms. Rudowski gave the respondent $700, which represented the cash surrender value of life insurance policy, to be held in escrow by respondent pending agreement between Ms. Rudowski and her husband as to distribution of property. On January 19, 1979, Ms. Rudowski appeared at the court hearing on her divorce action with substituted counsel, since respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on August 21, 1978. Although Ms. Rudowski's new attorney was able to obtain much of her file from the respondent, the escrow funds were never returned, nor did respondent return the unearned portion, approximately $1,500, of the $3,000 paid for his fee, although he had promised to do so.
Ms. Rudowski then had to pay substitute counsel $1,500 to complete the divorce action.
The District VI Ethics Committee found that the respondent misappropriated the $700 which was to be held in escrow for Ms. Rudowski. The Clients' Security Fund paid to Ms. Rudowski $653 in satisfaction of her claim against the respondent in September of 1979.
Elizabeth Joubert retained the respondent in November of 1977 to represent her in a divorce action. At that time, she paid $500 toward his fee. The complaint for divorce was not filed and served on Ms. Joubert's husband for several months. In July of 1978, respondent represented to Ms. Joubert that a court date was anticipated for August or September, and requested an additional $500 payment, which Ms. Joubert made. Although her divorce hearing was set for September, she received written notice prior thereto that the respondent had been suspended from the practice of law. Ms. Joubert then went to respondent's office and met with respondent. He advised that his suspension was temporary and since he would be reinstated soon Ms. Joubert could either find a new attorney or wait for his reinstatement. She was in touch with him until January, when another court date was arranged. She did not seek other counsel until that date approached. At that time, since respondent had taken virtually no action on her behalf, she had to pay an additional $1,500 to substitute counsel for her divorce. She was unable to obtain a return of any of the funds paid to respondent.
The District VI Ethics Committee found specifically that respondent did little or no work in return for the $1,000 paid to him by Ms. Joubert.
The respondent was retained on July 26, 1977 by John Wayne to represent him in an action to set aside a judgment. Mr. Wayne paid $1,000 to the ...