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In re Beenot

Supreme Court of New Jersey

April 3, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT J. BEENOT AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

         District Docket No. XIV-2016-0091E

          Erlen A. Brofisky Chief Counsel

          DECISION

          BONNIE C. FROST, CHAIRMAN

         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 Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). The complaint charged respondent with violations of RPC 5.5(a)(1) and R. 1:20-20(b)(1) (engaging in the unauthorized practice of law), RPC 8.1(b) (failing to cooperate with disciplinary authorities), and RPC 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). For the reasons set forth below, we determined to impose a two-year suspension.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1982.

         On May 2, 2012, respondent received a reprimand for violating RFC 1.4(c) (failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation) and RPC 1.5(b) (failure to communicate in writing the basis or rate of the fee). In re Bernot, 210 N.J. 117 (2012).

         On April 3, 2013, respondent was temporarily suspended by the Court, effective May 3, 2013, for failing to pay disciplinary costs assessed in his May 2, 2012, disciplinary matter. In re Bernot, 213 N.J. 541 (2013). On October 4, 2013, respondent was reinstated, having paid in full the monies owed. In re Bernot, 215 N.J. 634 (2013).

         On October 22, 2012, the Court declared respondent administratively ineligible to practice law, pursuant to R. 1:28A-2(d), based on his failure to comply with the Court's Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts requirements. On November 17, 2014, the Court declared him ineligible to practice law, for failure to satisfy his continuing legal education requirements. He remains ineligible pursuant to that Order.

         Additionally, the Court entered an Order, effective September 12, 2016, declaring respondent ineligible to practice law for failure to pay the annual attorney assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. He remains ineligible to date.

         Service of process in this matter was proper. On May 25, 2017, the OAE sent a copy of the complaint to respondent at his last known office address by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested. The regular mail was not returned. On May 30, 2017, respondent signed the certified mail receipt.

         On August 23, 2017, the OAE sent respondent a letter, to the same address, by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested, informing him that, if he failed to file a verified answer to the complaint within five days of the date of the letter ("the five-day 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). On August 29, 2017, respondent signed the certified mail receipt for that letter.

         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.

         We now turn to the allegations of the complaint. In 2011, respondent represented grievant, Penelope Barsky (Penelope), in a post-judgment matrimonial matter. In August 2011, Penelope entered into a property ...


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