In the Matter of Stephen P. Dempsey An Attorney At Law
Argued: February 21, 2019
Docket No. XIV-2017-0483E
W. Figland appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney
Respondent appeared pro se.
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 final discipline filed
by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R.
l:20-13(c), following respondent's guilty plea to the
fourth-degree crime of operation of a motor vehicle during a
period of a driver's license suspension (second or
subsequent violation), in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26b,
and driving under the influence, in violation of N.J.S.A.
39:4-50. The OAE recommends that we impose a reprimand and
conditions. For the reasons set forth below, we agree with
the OAE's recommendation.
was admitted to the New Jersey and New York bars in 2001. At
the relevant time, he maintained a law office in Summit, New
Jersey. He has no history of discipline.
Union County Prosecutor filed an indictment charging
respondent with the fourth-degree crime of unlawfully
operating a motor vehicle during a period of license
suspension, second violation, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26b.
The Summit City Police Department also charged respondent
with violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, reckless driving;
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, driving while intoxicated
(DWI); and N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, driving while
driver's license was suspended or revoked (second
violation). According to the OAE's motion,
respondent's operation of the vehicle on July 17, 2017,
while under the influence, resulted in "a crash."
February 26, 2018, respondent appeared before the Honorable
John M. Deitch, J.S.C., Superior Court of New Jersey, Union
County, Law Division, Criminal Part, and entered a guilty
plea to the indictment. Respondent admitted that, on July 17,
2017, while his license was suspended, he operated a motor
vehicle in Summit, New Jersey, and that his license had been
suspended previously for a prior "DWI" conviction.
Respondent admitted that he had been convicted of "DUI
on more than two occasions." As part of the plea
agreement, the State dismissed the driving while suspended
charge, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.
to the April 13, 2018 sentencing before Judge Deitch,
respondent and the Union County Prosecutor entered into a
plea agreement on the outstanding charges. At the sentencing
hearing, respondent entered a guilty plea to driving under
the influence. In return, the reckless driving charge was
the sentencing hearing, respondent admitted that, on July 17,
2017, he operated a vehicle after consuming approximately
four to five glasses of wine and an
"old-fashioned." He acknowledged that, at the time,
he was under the influence of the alcohol, which impaired his
ability to operate the vehicle. Respondent's submission
to an Alcotest breath-testing device resulted in a reading of
hearing, respondent's counsel noted that respondent was
very fortunate that the accident had not resulted in any
injuries. Respondent acknowledged that he was aware of the
consequences of his actions, and that they were
"reckless and showed a disregard for . . . the law and
people's safety." He was ashamed and regretted his
conduct. Respondent hoped to avoid similar situations, adding
that he was in a program that helped him with stress and
judge found, as aggravating factors, respondent's prior
alcohol use and the need to deter him from engaging in future
similar conduct. The judge found, as a mitigating factor,
that respondent was likely to respond affirmatively to
treatment and counseling to deal with stress and alcohol
problems. Further, the judge found that respondent was
"solemn and appropriately apologetic," as well ...