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In re Colby

Supreme Court of New Jersey

August 10, 2018

IN THE MATTER OP MAXWELL X. COLBY AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

          Argued: May 17, 2018

          Reid Adler appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics (DRB 18-061).

          Claire Scully appeared on behalf of the District IX Ethics Committee (DRB 18-062).

          Respondent appeared pro se.

          Ellen A. Brodsky Chief Counsel

          DECISION

          Board Bonnie C. Frost, Chair

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

         These consolidated matters were before us on a recommendation for a one-year suspension, filed by the District IX Ethics Committee (DEC).

         The complaint in DRB 18-061 charged respondent with violating RPC 1.8(a) (conflict of interest); RPC 1.15(d) (recordkeeping); RPC 5.5(a)(1) (unauthorized practice of law); RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary officials); and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

         The complaint in DRB 18-062 charged respondent with violating RPC 1.1(a) (gross neglect); RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence); RPC 1.4(b) (failure to communicate with the client); and RPC 8.1(b).

         For the reasons stated below, we determine to impose a two-year suspension to run consecutively to the suspension respondent is currently serving.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1975 and the New York bar in 1984.

         On April 30, 2002, the Court reprimanded respondent for his negligent misappropriation of client trust funds due to improper trust and business accounting practices. In re Colby, 172 N.J. 37 (2002). On February 8, 2008, the Court again reprimanded respondent for recordkeeping violations, some of which continued from the time of his first reprimand. In re Colby, 193 N.J. 484 (2008).

         On March 24, 2017, respondent was temporarily suspended for failing to cooperate in the investigation into DRB18-061. In re Colby, 228 N.J. 236 (2017).

         On March 14, 2018, the Court suspended respondent for one year for gross neglect, - lack of diligence; failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the matter; knowingly disobeying the rules of a tribunal; practicing law while administratively ineligible; failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities; and conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. In re Colby, 232 N.J. 273 (2018). Respondent remains suspended to date.

         In addition, since September 26, 2011, respondent has been ineligible to practice law for failure to pay the annual assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (the Fund). He also has been ineligible to practice law for failure to comply with the Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) requirements, since October 21, 2011, and for failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements, since November 17, 2014.

         DRB 18-061 (District Docket Nos. XIV-2016-0248E and IX-2017-0901E)

         At the DEC hearing in this matter, the parties agreed that the admissions contained in respondent's answer to the ethics complaint would serve as a stipulation. The facts of the matter are as follows.

         a. Practicinq while ineliqible

         Respondent stopped paying his annual fee to the Fund in 2011 and remained ineligible to practice law through 2016, when he was temporarily suspended for his failure to cooperate with the Office of Attorney Ethics' (OAE) investigation in this matter. Respondent explained that he stopped paying his annual assessment because he did not have the funds to do so. Subsequently, in 2011, respondent also become ineligible for failure to comply with IOLTA. Despite his knowledge of his ineligibility to practice law in New Jersey, respondent actively represented clients between 2011 and 2016.

         Specifically, respondent admitted that, between 2011 and 2016, he was the attorney of record in approximately twenty-five real estate transactions and that he was aware of his ineligibility at the time. Additionally, respondent admitted that, during the same period, he failed to report the completion of his continuing legal education requirements in 2014. He maintains, however, that ...


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