On an Order to Show Cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.
For suspension -- Chief Justice Wilentz, and Justices Clifford, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi and Stein. Opposed -- None.
The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) commenced this disciplinary proceeding by filing with the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) a Motion for Final Discipline of respondent, Richard T. Kinnear, pursuant to Rule 1:20-6(b)(2)(i). The Motion was based on respondent's guilty plea to a charge of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, cocaine, in violation of N.J.S.A. 24:21-19a(1).
The DRB accurately sets forth the relevant facts surrounding respondent's conviction in its Decision and Recommendation:
Respondent, an admitted addict, "shared or gave" cocaine to an undercover narcotics investigator on September 7, 1984 in Wall Township. According to a State Police analysis, the quantity involved was 1.35 grams.
Respondent and nine others were later indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury. On April 8, 1985 respondent pleaded guilty to a charge of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance. On September 26, 1985 respondent was sentenced. He was placed on probation for three years and was directed to
continue outpatient treatment for his addiction. He also was fined $2,000. The sentencing judge noted that respondent was principally a user and that his judgment had gone a little bit awry. The judge found that the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating factors as a reason for the noncustodial sentence.
Four members of the DRB recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year. Two members recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years and one member recommended respondent be disbarred. Our independent review of the record leads us to accept the recommendation of the majority of the DRB.
A criminal conviction of an attorney is conclusive evidence of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding. R. 1:20-6(b)(1). Once an attorney is convicted of a crime, the sole issue to be considered is the extent of discipline to be imposed. R. 1:20-6(b)(2)(ii). Matter of Goldberg, 105 N.J. 278, 280 (1987); Matter of Kaufman, 104 N.J. 509, 510 (1986); Matter of Kushner, 101 N.J. 397, 400 (1986); In re Addonizio, 95 N.J. 121, 123-24 (1984); In re Infinito, 94 N.J. 50, 56 (1983); In re Rosen, 88 N.J. 1, 3 (1981); In re Mirabelli, 79 N.J. 597, 602 (1979); In re Mischlich, 60 N.J. 590, 593 (1972).
The Court's goal in disciplinary proceedings is "to protect the interests of the public and the bar while giving due consideration to the interests of the individual involved." Matter of Litwin, 104 N.J. 362, 365 (1986); In re Infinito, supra, 94 N.J. at 57; In re Mischlich, supra, 60 N.J. at 593. In considering the appropriateness of the discipline we consider many factors: the nature and severity of the crime, whether the crime is directly related to the practice of law, the respondent's good reputation, prior trustworthy professional conduct and general good character. Matter of Litwin, ...