TRENTON—The decisions of the New Jersey Supreme Court Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) are now available online at njcourts.com, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner announced Monday.
“It is important that the public be able to access and review DRB decisions, which are an important part of our attorney discipline system,” said Rabner. “For that reason, following many months of work, we are pleased today to launch a web site and a searchable archive for DRB opinions. We hope that the ready availability of those decisions will bring transparency to the system and enhance public confidence in it.”
Recent decisions can be found at njcourts.com. Older DRB decisions will be available courtesy of the law library at Rutgers Law School-Camden on a searchable archive of DRB decisions from 1998 to the present. To see recent and archived decisions, look on the Judiciary Web site under the heading “Legal Reference Desk” for the link to “DRB Decisions.”
“The database is the result of a year-long effort to ensure that not only our recent decisions, but the past 11 years of the DRB’s work, is available on a convenient, searchable, and free database,” said Julianne K. DeCore, chief counsel to the DRB. “We are grateful to Rutgers for helping us make this happen.”
The DRB is composed of nine volunteers, both attorneys and members of the public. It conducts a review of each attorney ethics matter where a district ethics committee, special master or the state’s Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) has recommended discipline for an attorney who has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct that all attorneys in New Jersey must follow.
The DRB hears oral argument on all cases in which the recommended discipline is greater than an admonition. Oral arguments on discipline cases are open to the public. The attorney can appear in person and can be represented by counsel.
If the DRB determines that an attorney has engaged in unethical conduct, it issues a decision regarding the appropriate level of discipline. Discipline can range from an admonition to disbarment. The attorney can petition the Supreme Court for review of the DRB’s decision. However, if the DRB decides that an attorney’s conduct requires disbarment, the attorney has an automatic right to a hearing before the Supreme Court.
The DRB also hears appeals on client/attorney fee arbitrations and dismissed ethics matters.
The attorney discipline system is funded through fees paid by New Jersey’s approximately 85,000 lawyers.
In 2008, the DRB docketed 450 cases, including 112 ethics appeals and 116 fee appeals.
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