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ABDALLAH v. PILEGGI
February 14, 1996
IMAN ABDALLAH, Plaintiff,
VINCENT PILEGGI, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HEDGES
I conducted a telephone conference on January 31, 1996. The purpose of the conference was to discuss defendants' allegation that Mr. Abdallah, a member of the Bars of this Court and of the State of New Jersey, could not prosecute this civil action as he is ineligible to practice law in the State for failure to make payment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection ("the Fund"). I assumed for the purpose of scheduling dispositive motions that a member of our Bar must also be eligible to practice law in the State of New Jersey. I am now satisfied that this assumption was incorrect.
New Jersey Court Rule ("R.") 1:28 governs the Fund. R. 1:28-2(a) provides that, with certain exceptions, "each holder of a plenary license to practice law in the State of New Jersey shall pay annually to the treasurer of the Fund a sum that shall be determined each year by the [New Jersey] Supreme Court." It further provides that, "the treasurer shall annually report the names of all attorneys failing to comply with the provisions of this Rule to the Supreme Court for inclusion on the list of those attorneys deemed ineligible to practice law in New Jersey by order of the Court." See Matter of Costanzo, 115 N.J. 428, 432, 558 A.2d 1309 (1989) (practice of law while on Ineligible List violates Rule of Professional Conduct ("RPC") 5.5(a)). Claims "resulting from the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar of the state or an attorney admitted pro hac vice acting either as an attorney or fiduciary" may be considered for payment. R. 1:28-3(a). R. 1:28-3(a)(1) provides that, for a claim to be considered, dishonest conduct must have been "engaged in while the attorney was a practicing member of the Bar of this State or admitted Pro Hac Vice in a matter pending in this State."
I am in receipt of correspondence from Kenneth J. Bossong, the Director & Counsel of the Fund, addressed to Ms. Santoro. Mr. Bossong advised that Mr. Abdallah was admitted to the New Jersey Bar on December 21, 1989. Mr. Bossong further advised that, "due to not responding to his 1994 billing with the required fee payment, Mr. Abdallah was declared ineligible to practice law in New Jersey on December 12, 1994 and remains on the Ineligible List."
General Rule 4A ("Scope of Admission") provides:
The bar of this Court shall consist of those persons heretofore admitted to practice in this Court and those who may hereafter be admitted in accordance with these Rules.
General Rule 4B deals with New Jersey attorneys:
Any attorney licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of New Jersey may be admitted as an attorney at law on motion of a member of the bar of this Court, made in open court, and upon taking the prescribed oath and signing the roll.
Plenary membership in the District Court's bar is tied directly to licensure in the State of New Jersey. Rule 4B. The link between federal and state admission is so strong that the federal Court participates in a joint admission ceremony with the New Jersey Supreme Court where each new state licensee who pays the required one-time fee (see Rule 4I) is simultaneously admitted to the federal bar. Participation in the admission ceremony is not required; an attorney wishing to be admitted by mail can obtain the necessary forms from the Clerk of the Court. [Lite, New Jersey Federal Practice Rules, Comment 2a to General Rule 4 (1996)].
The General Rules do not impose any continuing monetary obligation on members of our Bar. Rule 41 ...
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