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Matter of Loigman

Decided: October 18, 1989.

IN THE MATTER OF LARRY S. LOIGMAN, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

ORDER

The Disciplinary Review Board having filed a report recommending that LARRY S. LOIGMAN of MIDDLETOWN, who was admitted to the Bar of this State in 1977, be publicly reprimanded for his conduct in three matters: 1) for his representation of a police officer following his employment by the police department, during the course of which he had been involved in various investigations involving the officer, in violation of DR 9-101(B); 2) for filing an unwarranted criminal complaint against his client because of his client's failure to pay the $60 balance of a $160 legal fee, in violation of DR 7-102(A)(2); and 3) for his gross neglect of a matter and failure to communicate with his client,

And the Court having heard the argument of counsel,

And good cause otherwise appearing;

It is ORDERED that the report of the Disciplinary Review Board is hereby adopted and that LARRY S. LOIGMAN be and hereby is publicly reprimanded for his ethical violations; and it is further

Ordered that the Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board, together with this Order and the full record be added as a permanent part of the file of said LARRY S. LOIGMAN as an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey; and it is further

Ordered that LARRY S. LOIGMAN reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.

APPENDIX

Report 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 three presentments and one recommendation for a private reprimand filed by the District IX (Monmouth County) Ethics Committee.

I. The Asmar Matter

In 1977, respondent filed a civil complaint on behalf of patrolman Robert Oches of the Middletown Police Department ("MPD") against Robert Asmar ("Grievant") for defamation and malicious prosecution. This complaint arose as a result of a criminal complaint for perjury that grievant filed against Oches in 1977.

In early 1979, while the Oches suit was in process, another MPD patrolman, James Wladyko, filed various charges against respondent with the Monmouth County Ethics Committee ("Committee"). The committee, after investigation, filed a

presentment on July 17, 1980. The presentment found that respondent, who had been previously employed with the MPD, was involved in various police investigations relating to grievant and either used or could have used such information in pursuit of the Oches matter. The information was acquired solely as a result of respondent's employment with the MPD. The committee, therefore, concluded that respondent had violated DR 9-101(B) by accepting "private employment in a matter in which he had substantial responsibility while he was a public employee."

After considering the committee's presentment, this Board determined that a private reprimand was appropriate. A letter of private reprimand was issued on March 5, 1981. The letter stated that respondent had placed himself "in a situation where there could be a conflict of interest in filing the civil suit against Mr. Asmar" and that such conduct resulted in an appearance of impropriety. The letter stated further that respondent had violated DR 9-101(B). This notwithstanding, respondent continued to represent Oches in the civil complaint against grievant, even after he received the letter of reprimand.

On March 26, 1981, respondent filed a motion to compel grievant (defendant) to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement negotiated in November of 1980. This "settlement" involved the payment of $450 and a letter of apology to Oches.

There was considerable disagreement as to the nature of the apology. Further motions and cross-motions were filed by both respondent and grievant's attorney. On June 11, 1981, respondent filed a cross-motion requesting that grievant be compelled to comply with a court order dated May 28, 1981. This motion was filed ten months after respondent received a copy of the committee's presentment and three months after the letter of private reprimand was issued.

Finally, grievant signed a letter of apology dated July 1, 1981. This letter was considerably pared down from an earlier draft suggested by respondent on March 26, 1981.

On June 25, 1984, a formal hearing was held before the committee as a result of a complaint filed by grievant on June 20, 1981. Respondent, his attorney, and grievant appeared at the hearing.

On September 19, 1984, the committee issued a presentment to the DRB. The presentment found that:

Respondent's continued representation of [Oches], in the 'settled' matter was a continued unethical and unprofessional act in direct violation of the letter of reprimand setting forth that his conduct resulted in the appearance of impropriety being created concerning the possible use of his position with the Middletown Police Department for his private advancement.

The presentment found further that respondent had violated DR 1-102(A)(1), which states that "a lawyer shall not violate a Disciplinary Rule" and, again, DR 9-101(B), which states that "a lawyer shall not accept private employment in a matter in which he had substantial responsibility while he was a public employee."

II. The McCabe Matter

In November 1981, respondent was retained by Thomas McCabe ("grievant") to form a corporation by the name of McCabe, Inc. Respondent received $100 from grievant on the date of their first conference.

On December 15, 1981, grievant went to respondent's office and received the corporate kit and related materials. Enclosed with these materials was respondent's bill dated December 15, 1981, for a total of $160. After the $100 retainer was applied to that total bill, there remained a balance of $60. On January 18, 1982, respondent sent grievant a second bill for the $60 balance.

After two billings and no payment, on March 8, 1982 respondent filed a criminal complaint against respondent and the newly formed corporation. These complaints alleged violations of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8 (theft of services), which provides, in pertinent part:

A person is guilty of theft if he purposely obtains services which he knows are available only for compensation by deception or threat . . . to avoid payment for the service.

On the same date that the complaint was filed, March 8, 1982, grievant's wife went to respondent's office and paid him the $60. Respondent had already signed the criminal complaints that same morning. The payment of the $60 was made without any knowledge of the criminal complaints. The complaints were subsequently dismissed on the ground that the state had not sustained its burden of proof.

A formal hearing was held before the ethics committee on February 5, 1985. Grievant testified that he fully intended to pay respondent the $60 and that there was no dispute regarding either the quality of the services rendered by respondent or the amount of the bill (T. 11, 12)*f ...


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