IN THE MATTERS OF FRANCIS CHARLES BABCOCK, JR. AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: January 18, 2018 (DRB 17-348) 
Docket Nos. XIV-2014-0542E and VI-2016-0007E
HoeChin Kim appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney
Respondent appeared pro se.
A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel.
W. Clark, Vice-Chair.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matters were before us on a recommendation for reprimand
filed by the District VI Ethics Committee (DEC) (DRB 17-348)
and a certification of the record filed by the DEC (DRB
17-446), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). We have consolidated them
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1990.
October 5, 2017, respondent received a reprimand, in a
default matter, for gross neglect, lack of diligence, failure
to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of the
matter, and failure to cooperate with disciplinary
authorities. The underlying conduct occurred between 2011 and
2014. In re Babcock, 231 N.J. 8 (2017) .
reasons stated below, we determine to impose a censure for
respondent's misconduct in both matters.
Thompson Estate Matter (17-348)
complaint charged respondent with violating RPC
1.1(a) (gross neglect); RPC 1.3 (lack of
diligence); RPC 1.15(b) (failure to promptly notify and
deliver funds or property to a client or third party); RPC
1.16(d) (failure to protect a client's interests upon
termination of representation); RPC 3.4(c) (knowingly
disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal); RPC
8.1(b) and R. 1:20-3(g)(3) (failure to cooperate with
disciplinary authorities); and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct
prejudicial to the administration of justice).
to the hearing before the DEC, respondent and the Office Of
Attorney Ethics (OAE) entered into a stipulation of facts and
respondent admitted some of the RPC violations
alleged in the complaint, as follows. By letter dated
September 18, 2014, the Hon. Katherine R. Dupuis, P.J. Ch.,
reported to the OAE that, on December 17, 2008, by way of
consent order, respondent had been appointed administrator of
the Estate of Andrew Thompson (the estate). In November 2013,
a disgruntled beneficiary of the estate filed a complaint
seeking an accounting from respondent.
March 27, 2014, again by consent order, respondent agreed to
provide an accounting to the parties by April 27, 2014, but
failed to meet that deadline. In June 2014, he provided a
preliminary accounting to Henry Purst, counsel for one of the
May 18, 2014 letter, another attorney involved in the estate
litigation asked respondent for an update on the status of
the accounting. Respondent replied that he would "remedy
the delinquency" and send a distribution check by May
17, 2014, Judge Dupuis entered an order requiring respondent
to provide the accounting as he had agreed in the March 27,
2014 consent order. In September 2014, four months after he
had committed to do so, respondent finally sent a
distribution check to Furst.
letter dated October 28, 2014, the OAE sent a copy of Judge
Dupuis letter to respondent, requesting a written response
and records relating to the estate, by November 10, 2014. Two
days later, on October 30, 2014, Judge Dupuis removed
respondent as administrator of the estate and signed a bench
warrant for his arrest, based on his failure to comply with
the court's prior was appointed as the
November 12, 2014, respondent telephoned OAE Disciplinary
Auditor Harry Rodriguez and requested additional time to
reply to the OAE's October 28, 2014 letter. Although the
OAE extended this deadline to November 21, 2014, respondent
failed to provide a written response to Judge Dupuis'
referral letter. By letter dated December 2, 2014, the OAE
enclosed copies of all of its prior correspondence, and,
again, requested respondent's written response, setting a
deadline of December 12, 2014.
December 12, 2014, respondent sent a two-page fax to
Rodriguez, listing deposits and disbursements from a Capital
One bank account, without including an account number or
supporting documentation. Respondent explained that he had
"not been able to pull out the back up for this yet but
expect to have most of it by Monday [December 15, 2014]. I
will fax it to you." He did not include a written
explanation for his failure to comply with Judge Dupuis'
prior orders. Despite his representation, respondent failed
to provide any additional information by December 15, 2014.
OAE, therefore, subpoenaed records relating to the estate
from both Capital One and Wells Fargo, along with
respondent's attorney accounts, to confirm the deposits
and disbursements that he had listed on the fax. Those
records showed that respondent opened an administrator's
account for the estate at Capital One on January 14, 2009,
with a $50 deposit. Between January 2009 and November 2014,
various transactions occurred within the estate account and,
on November 30, 2014, a balance of $52, 478.58 remained in
April 10, 2015 letter, the OAE scheduled a demand audit of
respondent's books and records, for April 29 2015 which
was later rescheduled to May 6, 2015. Meanwhile, on April 30,
2015, Judge Dupuis entered an order, declaring respondent to
be in violation of litigant's rights for failure to
surrender the file to the substitute administrator, and
entered judgment against him for attorney's fees and
5, 2015, respondent asked the OAE to adjourn the demand audit
scheduled for the following day. Ethics counsel informed
respondent that the audit would not be adjourned unless he
provided the previously requested documents to the OAE.
Respondent replied that, although he had some of the
documents, he would not send them, - that he was in the
process of obtaining the rest of the documents; and that he
intended to see Judge Dupuis that day to "straighten
out" the matter. Respondent represented that he would
fax the documents to the OAE by 7:00 a.m. on May 6, 2015. He
neither faxed the documents nor appeared . for the May 6,
2015 demand audit.
12, 2015, the OAE contacted Judge Dupuis, who confirmed that
respondent had appeared on May 5, 2015. She refused to see
him, however, because he had not filed any papers with the
court or provided his file ...