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In re Corsi

Supreme Court of New Jersey

April 5, 2019

In The Matter Of Christopher Corsi An Attorney At Law

         District Docket No. IIIB-2017-0035E

          Ellen A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.

          DECISION

          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 certification of the record filed by the District IIIB Ethics Committee (DEC), pursuant to R, 1:20-4(f). The formal ethics complaint charged respondent with violating RPC 1.2(a) (failure to abide by the client's decisions concerning the scope and objectives of the representation); RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence); RPC 1.4 (presumably (b)) (failure to communicate with the client); RPC 3.3 (presumably (a)(1)) (false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal); RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities); and RFC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

         For the reasons set forth below, we determine to impose a three-month suspension.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars in 2009, He was ineligible to practice law from August 25, 2014 through May 25, 2016 for his failure to pay the annual assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (the Fund). On August 28, 2017, respondent again became ineligible to practice law for his failure to pay the Fund and remains ineligible to date.

         Service of process was proper in this matter. On May 14, 2018, the DEC sent a copy of the complaint to respondent at his address in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by regular and certified mail. According to the DEC investigator's certification, respondent's former employer provided the Philadelphia address, and the presenter successfully had served respondent at that address during the investigation. Neither the regular mail nor the certified mail was returned. The DEC did not receive a "green card" for the certified mail.

         On June 15, 2018, the DEC sent a letter to respondent, to the same Philadelphia, Pennsylvania address, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail stating that, if he failed to file a verified answer to the complaint within five days of the date of the letter, the allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted, the entire record would be certified directly to us for the imposition of discipline, and the complaint would be deemed amended to include a violation of RPC 8.1(b). The regular mail was not returned, and the certified mail was returned unclaimed.

         The time within which respondent may answer has expired. As of the date of the certification of the record, no answer had been filed by or on behalf of respondent.

         We now turn to the allegations of the complaint.

         While respondent was an associate with Berkowitz & Associates, P.C. (Berkowitz), he was assigned to represent the plaintiff in the matter of Ivory Beach Condominium Association v. Windowrama, et al. (the Ivory Beach matter). Steven Berkowitz was the attorney of record, however. The Honorable Joseph Marczyk, P.J. Cv., set February 21, 2017 as a firm trial date for the Ivory Beach matter. Although that date was communicated clearly to respondent, neither he nor his client appeared for trial. Instead, on February 21, 2017, respondent contacted the court, claiming that he was sick. The court directed him to provide a physician's note, which he failed to do. Respondent had previously failed to appear for a telephonic pretrial conference on February 16, 2017, due to a claimed illness, and also had canceled, at the last minute, a mediation scheduled before a retired judge because of an alleged illness. The trial was rescheduled for April 24, 2017.

         On April 23, 2017, respondent informed counsel for Windowrama that Ivory Beach had accepted its last settlement offer. The parties reported the settlement agreement to Judge Marczyk in a series of text messages in which respondent participated. On April 24, 2017, the court entered an order of settlement.

         Subsequently, respondent's supervising attorney, Berkowitz, filed a motion to vacate the settlement on behalf of Ivory Beach. An investigation in support of that motion revealed that respondent had not discussed the alleged settlement with his client, had no authority from his client to settle the case under the reported terms, and continued to ...


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