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Matter of Magid

March 31, 1995

IN THE MATTER OF LAWRENCE G. MAGID, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW.


On consideration of why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi, Stein, and Coleman join in this opinion.

(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).

IN THE MATTER OF LAWRENCE G. MAGID, An Attorney at Law (D-98-94)

Submitted January 18, 1995 -- Decided March 31, 1995

PER CURIAM

Lawrence A. Magid (Magid) was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1969. On December 7, 1993, Magid pleaded guilty to the disorderly persons offense of simple assault. That offense arose out of an incident that occurred on September 25, 1993, wherein Magid punched, kicked, and knocked down his girlfriend of several months, K.P. At the time of this incident, Magid was the First Assistant Prosecutor of Gloucester County.

This disciplinary proceeding arose from a Motion for Final Discipline Based Upon Criminal Conviction filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) before the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB), seeking final discipline of Magid based on the simple assault conviction.

The DRB found that Magid had engaged in unethical conduct. Four members recommended that Magid be publicly reprimanded. Two members would have imposed a private reprimand.

HELD: Lawrence G. Magid is publicly reprimanded for his criminal conviction of the disorderly persons offense of simple assault.

1. A criminal conviction is conclusive evidence of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding. Thus, the only issue to be determined is the extent of the discipline to be imposed. In making that determination, the Court considers the interests of the public, the bar, and the attorney. (p. 3)

2. Magid's conviction of the disorderly persons offense of simple assault is clear and convincing evidence that he has violated RPC 8.4(b). The fact that Magid's misconduct did not directly involve the practice of law or a client is of no moment because private misconduct of attorneys can also be the subject of discipline. New Jersey has a strong public policy against domestic violence. (pp. 4-5)

3. There are mitigating factors in this case: the assault by Magid was an isolated incident; there was no pattern of abusive behavior; the assault lasted for a very short period of time; the intense negative publicity adversely affected Magid's career; at the time of the assault, Magid's son was critically ill; Magid's relationship with K.P. was a troubled one; and Magid had an otherwise unblemished professional record. Nonetheless, those mitigating factors do not excuse the attack nor do they obviate the need for public discipline. Magid held a public office through which he was to combat, not commit, acts of domestic violence. (pp. 5-7)

4. There are few reported attorney ethics cases involving domestic violence and, as such, the Court has not previously addressed the discipline to be imposed on an attorney who is convicted of such conduct. Moreover, Magid did not engage in a pattern of abusive behavior. Had neither of those factors existed, Magid would have received discipline greater than what is now imposed. In the future, however, an attorney convicted of an act of domestic violence will ordinarily be suspended from the practice of law.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILENTZ and JUSTICES HANDLER, POLLOCK, O'HERN, GARIBALDI, STEIN and COLEMAN ...


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