In The Matter Of Rhashea Lynn Harmon An Attorney At Law
Docket No. XIV-2017-0556E
A. Broasky 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, .
l:2O-4(f). The two-count formal ethics complaint charged
respondent with violations of RPC 1.4(b) (failure to
communicate with a client), RPC 1.16(c) (failure to
comply with applicable law when terminating a
representation), RPC 1.16(d) (upon termination of
the representation, failure to take steps reasonably
practicable to protect a client's interests), and
RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice) (count one); and RPC
8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities)
reasons set forth below, we determine to impose a three-month
earned admission to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars in
2012, and to the New York bar in 2011. During the relevant
time frame, she maintained a law practice in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. She has no disciplinary history.
of process was proper in this matter. On May 24, 2018, the
OAE sent a copy of the formal ethics complaint to respondent,
at her Philadelphia law office address, by certified and
regular mail. According to the United States Postal Service
(USPS), the certified mail was never delivered and could not
be located; the regular mail was not returned.
21, 2018, the OAE sent a "five-day" letter to
respondent, at her Philadelphia law office address, by
certified and regular mail, informing her that, unless she
filed a verified answer to the complaint within five days,
the allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted,
the record would be certified to us for the imposition of
discipline, and the complaint would be deemed amended to
charge a willful violation of RPC 8.1(b). According
to the USPS, the certified mail was "currently in
transit... as of June 25, 2018," and was not confirmed
as delivered; the regular mail was not returned.
17, 2018, the OAE sent a copy of the formal ethics complaint
to respondent, at her Philadelphia law office address, by
United Parcel Service (UPS). UPS confirmed to the OAE that
the package was delivered on July 18, 2018, and accepted by
August 15, 2018, the OAE sent a second "five-day"
letter to respondent, at her Philadelphia law office address,
by UPS, with the same warning contained in the June 21, 2018
letter. UPS confirmed to the OAE that the package was
delivered on August 16, 2018, and accepted by
respondent had not filed an answer to the complaint, the OAE
certified the record to us as a default.
turn to the allegations of the complaint. In 2017, respondent
represented Clay Evans, in the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Gloucester County, in defense of a criminal charge that he
had violated conditions of his lifetime supervision imposed
in connection with a prior conviction. On September 19, 2017,
the Honorable Robert Becker, J.S.C. reported to the District
IV Ethics Committee (DEC) that respondent had failed to
appear for a scheduled criminal jury trial. Judge Becker
reported to the DEC that, on September 11, 2017, respondent
had failed to appear for a pretrial hearing, but subsequently
had attended jury selection proceedings, on September 12 and
13, 2017. On September 13, 2017, Judge Becker informed Evans,
respondent, and Assistant Prosecutor Staci Sheetz that the
trial would commence on September 19, 2017 at 8:45 a.m. On
September 15, 2017, Assistant Prosecutor Sheetz told Judge
Becker that the Philadelphia Court of Commons Pleas had
issued a bench warrant for respondent's arrest, relating
to a trespassing charge, which remained active.
p.m., on September 18, 2017, the day prior to the trial,
respondent notified Assistant Prosecutor Sheetz, copying
Judge Becker and his law clerk, via e-mail, that she was
"no longer the attorney on the matter . . . Evans is
representing himself." Attached to the e-mail was a
letter of the same date, wherein respondent admitted that she
had missed court on September 11, 2017, and had arrived late
on September 12, 2017. The letter further stated "[t]ake
note that this correspondence represents my withdraw [sic] as
[attorney for Evans] ... He will represent himself from this
date forward and I will function as his private international
advisor along with Chief Osiris, Foreign General
Counsel." The letter contained multiple accusations of
prosecutorial misconduct, in addition to numerous
"sovereign citizen" elements and citations to
biblical passages. On September 19, 2017, respondent failed
to appear for the commencement of the trial. Both Judge
Becker and Evans, who was present in court with ...