IN THE MATTER OP JAMIS PETER BYRNE AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Docket No. VI-2016-0008E
C Frost, Chair
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a certification of the record filed
by the District VI Ethics Committee (DEC), pursuant to R.
1:20-4(f). A ten-count complaint charged respondent with
violations of RPC 1.1(a) (gross neglect),
RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence), RPC 1.4(a)
(failure to inform a prospective client how, when, and where
the client may communicate with the attorney), RPC
1.4(b) (failure to communicate with the client), RPC
1.5(a) (unreasonable fee), RPC 1.15(a) (failure to
safeguard client property), RPC 1.16(d) (failure to
protect the client's interests upon termination of the
representation), RPC 3.2 (failure to expedite
litigation), RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with
an ethics investigation), and RFC 8.4(c) (conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).
determine to impose a three-month suspension.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1991. On September 6,
2006, respondent received a reprimand for a conflict of
interest when representing both the driver and passenger in
filing claims against each other, and for failure to set
forth, in writing, the rate or basis of his legal fee in nine
personal injury matters. In re Byrne, 188 N.J. 249
Supreme Court Order, effective December 2, 2016, respondent
was temporarily suspended for failure to comply with the
terms of a fee arbitration determination. In re
Byrne, 227 N.J. 189 (2016). He remains suspended to
August 24, 2015, the Court entered an Order declaring
respondent ineligible to practice for failure to pay his
annual registration to the Lawyers' Fund for Client
Protection (CPF). He remains ineligible to date.
of process was proper in this matter. On April 20, 2017, the
DEC sent respondent a copy of the complaint by certified and
regular mail to his home address in the State of Washington.
The certified mail green card was not returned, and the
United States Postal Service (USPS) tracking information
shows attempted but incomplete delivery for the certified
mail, as it was unclaimed. The regular mail was not returned.
16, 2017, the DEC sent a second letter to respondent, to the
same home address in Washington, also by regular and
certified mail, informing him that if he did not answer the
complaint within five days of the date of the letter, the
allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted; that,
pursuant to 1U. 1:20-4(f) and R. 1: 20-6(c) (1), the record
in the matter would be certified directly to us for
imposition of sanction; and that the complaint would be
amended to include a charge of a violation of RPC
original certified mail green card was returned signed, but
the signature is illegible, and no date of delivery was
affixed thereto. USPS tracking information, however, shows a
delivery date of June 23, 2017, having been forwarded to an
address for another town in the State of Washington. The
regular mail was not returned.
time within which respondent was required to answer the
complaint has expired. As of August 4, 2017, the date of the
certification of the record, respondent had not filed an
complaint alleges the following facts. On October 24, 2009,
Elaine Spath retained respondent to file a chapter 7
bankruptcy petition. Respondent's legal fee was $2, 200
plus a $300 filing fee, for a total of $2, 500. From November
3, 2009 through March 4, 2010, Spath paid respondent the $2,
500 in five equal installments. Respondent negotiated all of
the checks and mailed Spath receipts for each check.
the course of four years, respondent met with Spath three
times to review debts for inclusion in the bankruptcy
petition. Spath provided respondent with bills, presumably
substantiating those debts. Nevertheless, respondent failed
to file a petition in her behalf.
four years, respondent misled Spath that her matter was
proceeding apace, that the courts were backlogged, and that
it "would be a while until her bankruptcy case would get
into court." Respondent failed to disclose to his client
that he had never filed the bankruptcy petition in her
matter. Likewise, respondent never provided Spath with a
billing statement indicating which legal services had been