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In re Osborne

Supreme Court of New Jersey

February 14, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL OSBORNE AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

         District Docket No. VIII-2015-0055E

          Ellen A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel.

          DECISION

          Bonnie C Frost, Chair.

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

         This matter was before us on a certification of default filed by the District VIII Ethics Committee (DEC), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). h one-count complaint charged respondent with violations of RPC 1.15(b) (safekeeping property) and RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with an ethics investigation). We determine to impose a censure.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1999.

         By Court Order effective March 3, 2016, respondent was temporarily suspended for failure to comply with a fee arbitration determination. In re Osborne, 22 4 N.J. 248 (2016). He remains suspended to date. We recently determined to impose a censure for respondent's failure to comply with R. 1:20-2 0, governing suspended attorneys. In the Matter of Michael Osborne, Docket No. DRB 17-183. That matter currently is pending with the Court.

         Service of process was proper in this matter. On February 24, 2017, the DEC sent respondent, by certified and regular mail, a copy of the complaint at his last known home address listed in the attorney registration records. The certified mail receipt was returned, having been signed on March 11, 2017, but the signature is illegible. The regular mail was not returned.

         On March 27, 2017, the DEC sent a second letter to respondent, also by certified and regular mail, to the same home address, notifying him that, unless he filed an answer to the complaint within five days of the date of the letter, the allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted; that, pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f), 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 8.1(b).

         The second certified mailing to respondent was not claimed. The regular mail was not returned.

         The time within which respondent may answer the complaint has expired As of April 27, 2017 date of the certification of the record, respondent had not filed an answer.

         The allegations of the complaint are as follows. Respondent represented Maria Mignone in 2012 for an undisclosed legal matter. In early 2015, Mignone terminated the representation and retained subsequent counsel, D.M., the grievant herein.[1] Thereafter, D.M. made numerous attempts, by various methods, to obtain Mignone's client file, but respondent did not comply with those requests.

         The complaint charged respondent with a violation of RPC 1.15(b) for his failure to turn over the client file to subsequent counsel upon termination of the representation. Presumably, the DEC intended to cite RPC 1.16(d), which addresses an attorney's failure to return property, such as the client's file, upon termination of the representation.

         Between February 15, 2016 and February 2, 2017, investigators assigned to the case sent respondent a total of six letters requesting his written reply to the grievance. Respondent did not reply to any of those ...


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