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In re Pappas

Supreme Court of New Jersey

January 22, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF HERCULES PAPPAS AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

         District Docket No. IV-2016-0037E

          Bonnie C. Frost, Chair Ellen A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel.

          DECISION

         To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

         This matter was before us by way of default filed by the District IV Ethics Committee (DEC), pursuant to ‰ l:2O-4(f). The complaint charged respondent with violations of RFC 5.5(a)(1) (engaging in the unauthorized practice of law) and RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate). For the reasons set forth below, we determine to impose a reprimand.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1997, to the Pennsylvania bar in 1998, and to the New York bar in 2009. He has no history of discipline in New Jersey.

         Service of process was proper in this matter. On May 16, 2017, the DEC sent a copy of the complaint to respondent's law office, in Haddonfield, New Jersey, by both regular and certified mail, return receipt requested. On May 17, 2017, Alice Bider signed for the certified mail. The regular mail was not returned.

         On June 13, 2017, the DEC sent respondent a letter, by regular mail, informing him that, if he failed to file a verified answer to the complaint within five days of the date of the letter, the allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted, the entire record would be certified directly to us for the imposition of discipline, and the complaint would be deemed amended to include a violation of RPC 8.1(b). The regular mail was not returned.

         The time within which respondent may have answered has expired. As of the date of the certification of the record, no answer had been filed by or on behalf of respondent.

         The facts, as alleged in the complaint, are as follows. In 2014, respondent represented an individual in a bankruptcy proceeding in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA). On September 10, 2014, in connection with a motion filed by the trustee, the bankruptcy judge issued an order requiring respondent to complete six hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credits within the bankruptcy subject matter, with at least one of those credits related to bankruptcy ethics.[1]

         The order further enjoined respondent from filing bankruptcy cases or otherwise participating in bankruptcy cases "in the District, or any other District where he may be licensed. (Although he shall be permitted to complete and participate in the above caption [sic] matter.)" That prohibition was to remain in place until respondent certified to the court that he had completed the required CLE credits.

         Subsequently, on October 28, 2015, respondent filed a Chapter 7 petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey, in Camden (DNJ). Thereafter, on March 30, 2016, also in the DNJ, respondent filed a Chapter 11 petition. At the time he filed these two petitions in New Jersey, respondent had not yet complied with the order entered by the bankruptcy court in the EDPA. According to the terms of the order, respondent's failure to comply with the CLE requirements set forth therein rendered him ineligible to practice in the DNJ.

         On September 30, 2016, the DEC sent a letter to respondent, notifying him of the investigation of the grievance filed against him, and requesting a written reply, along with any documents that would assist in the investigation. On November 4, 2016, respondent telephoned the investigator, indicating that he was having telephone problems and had been ill. During that call, he provided the investigator with general information pertaining to the grievance, but stated he would provide a written response.

         Several weeks later, the investigator, by letter, reminded respondent that his reply was required and set a deadline of seven days for respondent to submit it. On January 19, 2017, having received nothing from respondent, the investigator sent a follow up letter regarding his failure to cooperate and, once again, giving him seven days to comply. Respondent made no further contact with the investigator after ...


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