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In re Hand

Supreme Court of New Jersey

June 26, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF STEPHANIE A, HAND AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

          Argued: April 19, 2018

          District Docket No. XIV-2015-0477E

          Hillary K. Horton appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.

          Respondent waived appearance for oral argument.

          Ellen A. Brodsky Chief Counsel

          DECISION

          Disciplinary Review Board 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 motion for final discipline filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to ]R. 1:20-13(c)(2). On September 29, 2015, respondent entered a guilty plea in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, to two misdemeanor counts of failure to file income tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7203. Both the OAE and respondent requested the imposition of a six-month prospective suspension.

         For the reasons set forth below, we determined to grant the motion for final discipline and impose a one-year prospective suspension.

         Respondent earned admission to the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York bars in 1994. She is engaged in the practice of law in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.

         In 2010, respondent received an admonition for violating RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence) and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). In that matter, respondent proceeded with her client's real estate purchase, despite her knowledge that the seller had filed a bankruptcy petition and, thus, the sale required the prior approval of the bankruptcy court. Respondent relied solely on the seller's representation that the bankruptcy court had approved the sale, which was not true. Eventually, the bankruptcy court approved the sale. In addition to imposing the admonition, we required respondent to return her fee to her client, in the Matter of Stephanie A. Hand, DRB 10-196 (September 29, 2010).

         In 2015, respondent received a second admonition for lack of diligence and failure to communicate with a client, in violation of RPC 1.4(b). Specifically, between July 23, 2012 and April 26, 2013, she failed to perform work on her client's matter or to inform him that an arbitrator's decision in favor of his contractor was not appealable. Rather, she continued to allow the client to believe that she would complete and file a complaint on his behalf. In the Matter of Stephanie A. Hand, DRB 14-291 (January 20, 2015).

         On December 1, 2015, respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law, as a result of her guilty plea to the criminal offenses that are the subject of this motion for final discipline. In re Hand, 223 N.J. 362 (2015). On December 9, 2015, she was reinstated to the practice of law, without objection by the QAE, presumably because her federal offenses were misdemeanors, rather than felonies. In re Hand, 223 N.J. 401 (2015).

         On July 5, 2017, respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law, after a jury in the Superior Court of New Jersey found her guilty of the second-degree crimes of financial facilitation of criminal activity and theft by ...


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