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In re Autry

Supreme Court of New Jersey

April 2, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF WAYNE A. AUTRY AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

          Ellen A. Brodsky Chief Counsel

          District Docket Nos. XIV-2016-048QE; XIV-2016-0432E; and XIV-2017-0231E

          DECISION

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

         These matters were before us on two separate certifications of default filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). We determined to consolidate them for disposition. In DRB 17-343, a one-count complaint charged respondent with having failed to comply with the OAE's requests for information about a trust account overdraft and failure to appear for a demand audit, in violation of RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with an ethics investigation). In DRB 17-354, a one-count complaint alleged that respondent violated RPC 8.1(b) and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) for his failure to file the required R. 1:20-20 affidavit, following his temporary suspension from the practice of law.

         We determine to impose a three-month suspension for the totality of respondent's misconduct in these two matters.

         Respondent was admitted to the New York and New Jersey bars in 2001. On July 2, 2015, he was reprimanded in a default matter for recordkeeping violations and for failure to respond to ethics authorities" requests for information. In re Autry, 222 N.J. 5 (2015).

         Effective April 11, 2016, respondent was temporarily suspended for failure to pay administrative costs associated with the above reprimand matter, In re Autry, 224 N.J. 385 (2016).

         Effective March 1, 2017, respondent was again temporarily suspended, this time for failure to cooperate in the matter under DRB 17-343. In re Autry, 228 N.J. 109 (2017). He remains suspended to date.

         DRB 17-343

         Service of process was proper in this matter. On July 6, 2017, the OAE sent respondent a copy of the complaint at his last known home address listed in the attorney registration records, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail. The certified mail receipt was returned, marked "Return to Sender, Not Deliverable As Addressed Unable to Forward." The regular mail was not returned.

         On August 22, 2017, the OAE sent a second mailing to respondent, to the same home address, also by certified and regular mail, 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 BL. 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 8.1(b).

         The green certified mail return receipt was returned signed, indicating delivery on August 25, 2017. The signature is illegible. The regular mail was not returned.

         The time within which respondent was required to answer the complaint has expired. As of September 18, 2017, the date of the certification of the record, respondent had not filed an answer.

         We now turn to the allegations of the complaint. On August 4, 2016, TD Bank notified the OAE that respondent's attorney trust account had been overdrawn on August 3, 2016. Accordingly, by letters dated August 11 and September 8, 2016, the OAE directed respondent to provide a written explanation for the overdraft. Respondent failed to do so.

         On October 3, 2016, the OAE sent respondent a letter directing him to appear at the OAE's offices for an October 24, 2016 demand audit. Respondent failed to appear on the audit date.

         Thereafter, the OAE subpoenaed respondent's attorney account records from TD Bank. Meanwhile, on August 11, 2016, respondent filed for bankruptcy, listing the same home address ...


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