IN THE MATTERS OF MUHAMMAD BASHIR AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel
C. FROST, CHAIR
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a certification of the record filed
by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R.
1:20-4(f). A one-count complaint charged respondent with
violations of RPC 1.1(a) (gross neglect), RPC 1.3
(lack of diligence), RPC 1.4(b) (failure to keep the
client reasonably informed about the status of the matter and
to reply to reasonable requests for information),
RPC 1.4(c) (failure to explain the matter to the
extent reasonably necessary for the client to make informed
decisions about the representation), RPC 1.5(b)
(failure to set forth in writing the rate or basis of the
legal fee), RPC 1.15(d) (recordkeeping),
RPC 1.16(a)(1) (a lawyer shall not represent a
client when to do so would violate the Rules of
Professional Conduct), RPC 1.16(d) (failure to
return an unearned retainer), RPC 5.5(a) (practicing
law while suspended), RPC 8.4(b) (committing a
criminal act), RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation), and RPC
8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of
determine to recommend respondent's disbarment.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1987. He has an
extensive disciplinary history consisting of an admonition,
three reprimands, a censure, and a temporary suspension.
Specifically, on March 6, 1996, respondent received a
reprimand for grossly neglecting a litigated matter,
resulting in a $41, 000 judgment against the clients. In
re Bashir, 143 N.J. 406 (1996).
25, 2005, respondent received an admonition. In five separate
criminal representations between August 2000 and November
2002, respondent failed to comply with court deadlines. As a
result, four Superior Court judges ordered sanctions against
him. Thereafter, respondent failed to pay the sanctions
timely, in contravention of RPC 3.4(c). In the
Matter of Muhammad Bashir, DRB 05-061 (May 25, 2005) .
27, 2015, respondent was temporarily suspended for failing to
comply with a fee arbitration determination. In re
Bashir, 222 N.J. 313 (2015).
18, 2016, respondent received a reprimand for failing to set
forth in writing the rate or basis of his legal fee and to
cooperate with an ethics investigation. In re
Bashir, 225 N.J. 8 (2016).
15, 2017, the Court reprimanded on respondent on respondent
for his failure to keep a client adequately informed about
the case (RPC 1.4(b) and (c)). In re Bashir, 229
N.J. 330 (2017).
on March 26, 2018, the Court censured respondent for his
willful violation of the Court's Order that he comply
with R. 1:20-20, governing suspended attorneys. Despite
having been granted an extension of time, respondent failed
to take the steps required of all suspended attorneys,
including notifying clients and adversaries of the suspension
and providing clients with their files, in violation of RPC
8.1(b), RPC 8.4(d), and R. 1:20-20. In re Bashir,
232 N.J. 332 (2018).
remains suspended to date.
of process was proper in this matter. On December 6, 2017,
the OAE sent respondent a copy of the complaint by certified
and regular mail to his home address as listed in the
attorney registration records.
addition, the OAE served the complaint in accordance with the
provisions of R. 1:20-4(d), by publication on December 8,
2017, in The Baltimore Sun, and on December 11,
2017, in the New Jersey Law Journal.
December 22, 2017, the certified mailing to respondent was
returned to the OAE marked "Return to Sender, Attempted
- Not Known, Unable to Forward."
January 8, 2018, the OAE sent another copy of the complaint
to respondent at his home address, by regular mail. As of
January 30, 2018, the date of the certification of the
record, the regular mail had not been returned.
time within which respondent may answer the complaint
expired. As of January 30, 2018, he had not filed an answer.
to the facts alleged in the complaint.
registered a Wells Fargo Bank attorney trust account (ending
in #2305) and attorney business account (ending in #2318)
with the OAE, but Wells Fargo had no record of those
February 2015, respondent agreed to represent Aneesha Ghaly,
pro bono, in a criminal matter in Union County. He
made one court appearance with Ghaly, but, thereafter,
informed her that he was being disciplined by way of a
reprimand. Ghaly asked whether she should retain new counsel,
and respondent replied that, if he "paid some bills, the
matter should be resolved." He then agreed to continue
to represent her for a $2, 500 fee.
previously stated, the Court temporarily suspended
respondent, effective July 27, 2015. On July 29, 2015, two
days into his temporary suspension, respondent met with Ghaly
at the Elizabeth Public Library, where she gave him $2, 500
for the continued representation. Respondent gave Ghaly a
receipt for the $2, 500, using attorney letterhead that
referred to him as "Esq.," and "Attorney at
Law." According to the receipt, the payment was
"for legal representation in the Union County Criminal
the meeting took place on July 29, 2015, in one place on the
receipt, respondent typed the date "July 25, 2015."
Next to his signature, he wrote by hand, "7/25/15."
Respondent never provided Ghaly with a written fee agreement.
After their July 29, 2017 meeting, respondent ceased taking
Ghaly's telephone calls and ignored her text messages to
him seeking information, prompting Ghaly to retain new
counsel to complete her case.
did not meet with respondent on July 25, 2015, as she was
vacationing in Cancun, Mexico from July 23 to July 27, 2015.
She provided ethics investigators with documentary proof of
her vacation and of her withdrawal of $2, 000 from her bank