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In re Baysah

Supreme Court of New Jersey

June 12, 2019

In the Matter of Ciatta Z. Baysah An Attorney At Law

         District Docket No. VI-2018-0030E

          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 VI Ethics Committee (DEC), pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). The formal ethics complaint charged respondent with violations of RPC 1.4, presumably (c) (failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary for the client to make informed decisions about the representation) and RPC 8.4, presumably (c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

         For the reasons set forth below, we determine to impose a censure.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 2006, New York in 2007 and the District of Columbia in 2009. She has no prior discipline. On August 28, 2017, respondent was declared ineligible to practice law for failure to pay the annual attorney assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. She remains ineligible to date.

         Service of process was proper in this matter. On May 22, 2018, respondent verified her correct home address in e-mail correspondence with the Office of Attorney Ethics. By letter of the same date, the DEC sent a copy of the complaint, by certified and regular mail, to that address. The United States Postal Service (USPS) website indicated delivery of the certified mail to a post office box in New York, for pickup on May 29, 2018. Neither the certified mail receipt card nor the regular mail was returned.

         On September 5, 2018, the DEC sent a letter to respondent, at the same home address, also by regular and certified mail, informing her that, if she failed to file an answer to the complaint within five days of the date of the letter, 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 amended to include a charge of a violation of RPC 8.1(b). The USPS website indicated delivery of the certified mail to a New York post office box on September 7, 2018. Neither the certified mail receipt card nor the regular mail was returned.

         As of September 27, 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 the Board as a default. We now turn to the allegations of the complaint.

         From 2006 through October 2010, respondent was employed as an associate attorney in the Akin law firm. On September 17, 2006, Jacqueline Bissah retained the law firm to represent her in a divorce. In 2007, Bissah's case was assigned to respondent, who handled it under partner supervision.

         While at the Akin firm, respondent filed two motions to enforce litigant's rights. The court decided the first motion in August 2008, and the second one in January 2010.[1] In October 2010, respondent left the Akin firm to take an associate position with the Dimentman law firm. Bissah transferred her matter to the Dimentman firm so that respondent could continue to work on her divorce.

         According to the complaint, respondent made multiple e-mail misrepresentations, presumably to Bissah, that she had filed a third motion to enforce litigant's rights in late 2010, and that the court had scheduled the matter for consideration in early 2011. Respondent, however, had not filed a third motion.

         The complaint charged that respondent's "failure to keep her client adequately and accurately informed and her deceit and misrepresentation of the facts constituted a violation of RPC ...


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