In The Matter of Katrina F. Wright An Attorney At Law
Docket No. XIV-2017-0679E
Argued: September 20, 2018
Johanna Barba Jones appeared on behalf of the Office of
Respondent failed to appear, despite proper notice.
A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a motion for reciprocal discipline
filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), following
respondent's three-year suspension in Pennsylvania, for
her violation of the Pennsylvania equivalent of New Jersey
RPC 3.3(a)(1) (knowingly making a false statement to
a tribunal); RPC 5.5(a) (unauthorized practice of
law); RPC 7.1(a) (making a false or misleading
communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services);
RPC 7.5(a) (using a firm name, letterhead or other
professional designation that violates RPC 7.1);
RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation); and RPC 8.4(d)
(conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
recommends the imposition of a censure or a three-month
suspension. For the reasons set forth below, we determine to
impose a one-year suspension.
was admitted to the New Jersey and the Pennsylvania bars in
1988. On May 5, 2008, she received a reprimand, on a
certified record, for gross neglect in a divorce proceeding,
based on her failure to file an answer on behalf of her
client, and for failure to cooperate with disciplinary
authorities. In re Wright, 194 N.J. 503 (2008).
16, 2015, respondent received a censure, also in a default
matter, for failure to expedite litigation, failure to return
a client's file upon termination of the representation,
and failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities in one
client matter, and lack of diligence, failure to communicate
with the client, failure to refund all or part of an unearned
retainer upon termination of the representation, and failure
to cooperate with disciplinary authorities in a second client
matter. In re Wright, 222 N.J. 27 (2015).
September 8, 2017, respondent was suspended from the practice
of law for six months, in a third default matter, for
knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a
tribunal, failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities,
and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
In re Wright, 230 N.J. 345 (2017).
November 22, 1993, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an
order, effective December 22, 1993, transferring respondent
to inactive status for failure to pay her annual fee. By
letter dated November 30, 1993, Elaine M. Bixler, Secretary
of the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, informed respondent
that she had been placed on inactive status, based on her
failure to comply with Pennsylvania Rule of Disciplinary
Enforcement (Pa.R.D.E.) 219. The letter further informed
respondent that she was required to comply with the Pa.R.D.E.
and Disciplinary Board Rules, and enclosed copies of
Pa.R.D.E. 217, Pa.R.D.E. 219, and Form DB-25 (Statement of
Compliance). Respondent received Bixler's letter on
December 7, 1993, but failed to file a verified statement,
pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 217(e), within ten days of the
effective date of her transfer to inactive status.
subsequent order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, dated
January 31, 1994, effective thirty days thereafter,
respondent was transferred to inactive status for failure to
comply with Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements. By
letter dated February 4, 1994, sent by certified letter,
Bixler notified respondent of her transfer to inactive status
for failure to comply with CLE requirements. The letter again
informed respondent that she was required to comply with the
Pa.R.D.E and Disciplinary Board Rules, and enclosed copies of
Pa.R.D.E. 217, and Form DB-25 (Statement of Compliance).
Respondent received Bixler's letter on February 7, 1994,
but failed to file a verified statement, pursuant to
Pa.R.D.E. 217(e), within ten days of the effective date of
her transfer to inactive status.
September 1, 2010, respondent was administratively suspended,
pursuant to Pa.R.D.E. 2l9(k)(l) and (2), for failure to
maintain an active registration status within one year of the
annual attorney registration year, beginning July 1, 2009.
Hence, as of September 1, 2010, respondent was ineligible to
practice law in Pennsylvania.
2010, respondent represented Jason C. Bush in a child support
action pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Burlington County. On June 17, 2010, the plaintiff, Deborah
D. Chaney, "caused a New Jersey support Order from the
Burlington County, New Jersey action to be registered for
enforcement in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia
County, Domestic Relations Division, under docket number
10-0792." The Superior Court had ordered Bush to pay
$245 per week in child support, and $50 per week in child
support arrears. As of April 2010, Bush's arrears were
approximately $37, 000.
1, 2010, Chaney served a Petition for Writ of Contempt on
Bush, and, on July 2, 2010, she filed the petition. On July
27, 2010, respondent signed and filed an entry of appearance
with the Family Division of the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas. She inserted her Pennsylvania Attorney Registration
Number on the appearance form.
on July 27, 2010, the judge informed the Assistant District
Attorney (ADA) that respondent's Pennsylvania law license
had been suspended. The ADA privately spoke to respondent,
who denied that she was ineligible to practice law.
Respondent insisted that the ineligibility had been
her case was called, respondent identified herself as the
attorney appearing on behalf of Bush. She told the court that
she had "advised" her "client" to be
"as cooperative as possible," that her
"client" was willing to deposit a lump sum to be
held pending a challenge to the New Jersey child support
order, and that in her "professional opinion," no
child support should have been ordered. She requested that
the Chaney matter be relisted so that she could research
whether her "client" actually owed the child
support. Respondent dated and signed an order providing that,
if her "client" failed to appear in court on
September 7, 2010, he would be subject to a warrant for his
September 7, 2010, respondent appeared telephonically before
the Honorable Holly J. Ford on behalf of Bush, but did not
inform the court that she was ineligible to practice law in
matter was relisted for October 5, 2010. On that date,
respondent again appeared telephonically, before the
Honorable Diane Thompson, and requested that the court grant
a continuance so that respondent could file pleadings in New
Jersey pertaining to the support order. She did not inform
the court that she was ineligible to practice law in
Pennsylvania. Judge Thompson relisted the matter for December
8, 2010, and provided respondent ten days to file a petition
to modify the support agreement, and send proof of the filing
to the District Attorney's Office.
December 8, 2010, Valerie Holman, a paralegal from
respondent's law office, faxed a request for a
continuance of the enforcement hearing to the court's
customer service line, and asked that the judge assigned to
the Chaney matter, and the ADA, be copied on the request.
Attached to the cover sheet was a signed letter, dated
December 6, 2010, on letterhead from "The Law Offices of
Katrina F. Wright," stating that respondent was licensed
in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The letter was copied to the
"Honorable Diane Thompson," and referenced New
Jersey and Pennsylvania court docket numbers. The letter
stated that Bush had no legal obligation to the daughter ...