The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) of the NJ Supreme Court released its annual Attorney Disciplinary System Report showing a total of 1,191 new investigations added in 2015.
Of the total investigations, 234 were added complaints. These are filed at the end of each investigation if there is a chance of proving unethical conduct by “clear and convincing evidence.” The case then goes to hearing and could result in disciplinary actions referred to as “sanctions.”
In 2015, 149 attorneys were sanctioned by the Supreme Court, a 14 percent decrease from the 174 attorneys sanctioned in 2014 and a 11.8 percent decrease from the five-year average of 169.
Of the 149 attorneys, 115 received “final sanctions” including six disbarments, 17 disbarments by consent, 25 term suspensions, one indefinite suspension, 19 censures, 28 reprimands, and 19 admonitions. The Supreme Court also issued 33 temporary license suspensions.
The report also showed an increased backlog of 20 percent for 2015. The percentage of investigations over one-year-old was 10 percent.