Honorable Robert N. Wilentz, Chief Justice
The Disciplinary Review Board having filed a report with the Supreme Court recommending that JOHN P. YETMAN, JR., of MOUNT HOLLY, who was admitted to the Bar in 1976, be publicly reprimanded: 1) for his gross negligence and lack of due diligence in violation of DR 7-101(A)(1) and (2) and RPC 1.1(a) and 1.3, in his representation in an estate matter, 2) for his failure to communicate with his client, in violation of DR 7-101(A) and RPC 1.4(a), and 3) for his failure to comply with his promise made at an ethics committee hearing, to turn over the file to a new attorney without delay, and good cause appearing;
It is ORDERED that the findings and recommendations of the Disciplinary Review Board are hereby adopted, and JOHN P. YETMAN, JR. 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 JOHN P. YETMAN, JR. as an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey; and it is further
Ordered that JOHN P. YETMAN, JR. reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.
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 on a presentment filed by the District III-B (Burlington County) Ethics Committee.
In April 1984, respondent was retained by Claire Bloom ("Grievant"), an elderly woman, to handle the administration of the estate of her deceased nephew, Peder N. Bloom, a friend of respondent's. Pursuant to respondent's testimony, he had no experience in estate matters. When he undertook the representation, however, it was his belief that he could handle it because it appeared to be a simple matter with a small estate. Complications, however, soon developed. The existing will was very old and the heirs and the executor could not be located. Those complications were not initially anticipated by respondent. He conceded at the ethics hearing that the better course of conduct, at that juncture, would have been to refer the file to another attorney. This he failed to do. As respondent testified,
"At that point, quite frankly, the matter began to scare me, and it became a case of my not knowing really what to do with it, and probably at that point waiting. This is not something that I did for personal gain, because I -- I really never intended, and I think I made it clear to Miss Bloom, to charge anything for my services, because I didn't think that it would be a complicated case, and I thought I could resolve it very quickly. And as it turned out, I guess I became afraid of the file, because -- because of uncertainties as to how to proceed with it." (T6-21 to 25, T7 1 to 9)*fn1
Not apprised of any developments in the representation, between April 1984 and August 1986 grievant wrote numerous letters and made numerous telephone calls to respondent to inquire about the status of the ...