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In re Marinelli

Supreme Court of New Jersey

May 15, 2019

In the Matter of Scott Michael Marinelli An Attorney At Law

         District Docket Nos. XIV-2017-0674 and XIV-2018-0179E

          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.

         These matters were before us on certifications of the record filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). In the first matter, the formal ethics complaint charged respondent with having violated RPC 8.1(b) (failure to cooperate with disciplinary authorities) and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), based on his failure to file an affidavit of compliance with R. 1:20-20 following his August 25, 2017 temporary suspension. In the second matter, the formal ethics complaint charged respondent with having violated RPC 8.1(b), based on his failure to submit to the OAE a written reply to a grievance filed against him by another attorney.

         We determine to impose a censure on respondent for the totality of his misconduct.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 2001. At the relevant times, he maintained an office for the practice of law in Chatham.

         On August 25, 2017, the Court temporarily suspended respondent for failure to cooperate with the OAE. In re Marinelli, 230 N.J. 341 (2017).

         DRB 18-352 (XIV-2017-0674E)

         In respect of the first matter, the OAE charged respondent with having violated RPC 8.1(b) and RPC 8.4(d), based on his failure to file an affidavit of compliance with R. 1:20-20 following his August 25, 2017 temporary suspension.

         Service of process was proper. On July 16, 2018, the OAE sent a copy of the formal ethics complaint to respondent's last known home address listed in the records of the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (CPF), by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested. The certified letter was "unclaimed," and, thus, returned to the OAE. The letter sent by regular mail was not returned.

         On August 23, 2018, the OAE sent another letter to respondent, at the same address, by regular and certified mail, return receipt requested. The letter informed respondent that, if he failed to file an answer within five days, the allegations of the complaint would be deemed admitted, the record would be certified directly to us for the imposition of discipline, and the complaint would be deemed amended to include a charge of a violation of RPC 8.1(b). The certified letter was "not deliverable as addressed," and, thus, returned to the OAE; however, the tracking information on the United States Postal Service website states that the letter was unclaimed. The letter sent by regular mail was not returned.

         As of October 10, 2018, respondent had not filed an answer to the complaint, and the time within which he was required to do so had expired. Accordingly, the OAE certified this matter to us as a default.

         According to the single-count ethics complaint, the Court's August 25, 2017 Order temporarily suspending respondent from the practice of law required him to comply with R. 1:20-20, which, in turn, obligated respondent, within thirty days, to file with the OAE Director "a detailed affidavit specifying by correlatively numbered paragraphs how the disciplined attorney has complied with each of the provisions of ...


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