The Disciplinary Review Board having filed a report with the Supreme Court recommending that LEWIS C. STANLEY of ROCKY HILL, who was admitted to the Bar of this State in 1954, be publicly reprimanded for engaging in undignified or discourteous conduct degrading to a tribunal, DR 7-106(C)(6), said conduct being prejudicial to the administration of justice, DR 1-102(A)(5) and in violation of disciplinary rule, DR 1-102(A)(1), and good cause appearing;
It is ORDERED that the findings of the Disciplinary Review Board are hereby adopted and respondent is publicly reprimanded; and it is further
ORDERED that the Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board, together with this order and the full record of the matter, be added as a permanent part of the file of said LEWIS C. STANLEY as an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey; and it is further
Ordered that LEWIS C. STANLEY reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.
Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board.
This matter is before the Board based upon a presentment filed by the District VII (Mercer County) Ethics Committee recommending that respondent be publicly disciplined. The Board makes the following findings of fact:
Respondent, an attorney with the State Office of Legal Services, represented Julius M. Sabo in a matrimonial action. On June 22, 1981 a plenary hearing was conducted to determine such issues as visitation and support. At the outset, respondent was admonished for interrupting the court. At one point during the legal argument respondent accused his adversary of "playing games," prompting the court to caution respondent not to couch his argument in those terms. The court said it found respondent's language very difficult. Respondent replied that the case was very difficult as was the court's attitude because it had permitted contempt of its order for a year and a half. The court replied
Mr. Stanley, I don't think I can tolerate your conduct any more. I'm not going to permit you with the trial of this case [sic]. I'll contact your office and ask somebody else to come down here to try this case [1T23-9 to 14].*fn1
When respondent replied that no one else was available, the court stated that respondent was "obfuscating the issues of the case" by his conduct. Later in the hearing, the court told
respondent: "Stop shouting. Keep your voice down" [1T43-24 to 25].
After the luncheon recess, the court told respondent that his conduct had been unsatisfactory because it interfered with the orderly consideration of evidence in the case. When respondent refused to follow the court's instruction concerning the interrogation of a witness, the court terminated the hearing, stating it could "no longer . . . tolerate [respondent's] behavior in this court" [1T58-3 to 7]. The court noted that respondent had refused to follow its directions and rulings and that respondent's conduct was discourteous.
The matrimonial motions were transferred to another court and a plenary hearing was held on July 21, 1981. Respondent here took exception to the court's comment that respondent had a "great ability to twist words." This produced the following colloquy between respondent and the court:
THE COURT: Please don't point your finger at the Court.
MR. STANLEY: I am not pointing a finger at you, your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Stanley, don't interrupt the Court when the Court is speaking. Your behavior is abominable really. I don't understand why you have to act that way.
MR. STANLEY: Are you prejudiced against me?
THE COURT: Of course not, Mr. Stanley, but there is no need for histrionics. Now you are at the point where you say you were criticized before, for raising your voice in the Court and you walk back and forth and try to look at the Court with great piercing eyes as if you were some superior type person. You are not. [2T56-16 to 2T57-16].*fn2
After being cautioned a number of times about interrupting the court, respondent stated that he would ask the court if it were finished before he spoke, contending that he had not consciously interrupted the court. The court stated:
The Court will note for the record that you have once again made a direction to the Court by pointing your finger and shaking your finger at the Court, squeezing up your face and making a demand that the Court now finds contumacious. I will deal with that at the end of the trial as to your total behaviour [sic] throughout the trial. There is no reason this Court can
ascertain, why you, over all of the attorneys that appear here day in and day out are unable to ascertain when the Court has finished speaking [2T81-20 to T82-6].
During cross examination of a witness, the court noted that respondent laughed. Respondent replied that he did so because the court was permitting certain questions by his adversary. Later in the hearing, defense counsel objected to a question respondent asked the witness as having previously ...