Genser, In re

Decision Date07 June 1954
Docket NumberNo. D--7,D--7
Citation15 N.J. 600,105 A.2d 829
PartiesIn re GENSER.
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court

James A. Major, Hackensack, argued the cause for the Ethics and Grievance Committee for Bergen County.

Herbert L. Smith, Leonia, argued the cause for the respondent William genser.

PER CURIAM.

William Genser was admitted in this State as an attornty-at-law in April 1937, and as a counsellor-at-law in October 1941, and has maintained offices at Teaneck and at Leonia, both in Bergen County, New Jersey.

In a presentment filed by the Ethics and Grievance Committee for Bergen County, Genser was charged with unethical and unprofessional conduct. R.R. 1:16--4(h). An order to show cause why he should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined was issued.

The violations of ethics and unprofessional conduct charged to Genser were: (1) violation of Canon 6, in that he allegedly permitted his personal interests to conflict with those of a client; (2) violation of Canon 11, in that he allegedly dealt with property of a client to his own advantage; (3) violation of Canon 22, in that he allegedly falsely represented himself to be the attorney of another and thereby obtained the moneys which were allegedly misappropriated; and (4) that Genser signed his name as witness to a concededly forged signature on a written contract.

Although the presentment alleged violation of specific canons, however, in the consideration of such presentment the following paragraph of the Preamble of the Canons of Professional Ethics is pertinent:

'No code or set of rules can be framed, which will particularize all the duties of the lawyer in the varying phases of litigation or in all the relations of professional life. The following canons of ethics are adopted by the American Bar Association as a general guide, yet the enumeration of particular duties should not be construed as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative, though not specifically mentioned.'

In this case the presentment charged the respondent with being guilty of unprofessional conduct based on transactions set forth in the presentment and the testimony taken before the Ethics and Grievance Committee for Bergen County, of which presentment and evidence the respondent was fully cognizant.

An attorney's responsibility is to the courts, the profession and the public, and his misconduct may be of such a nature as to engender disrespect for the law which is his basic trust. In re Howell, 10 N.J. 139, 140--141, 89 A.2d 652 (1952).

The facts in this case are that Alfred L. Weiss and Samuel Goldwasser, New York attorneys, were associated with others as Ramsey Associates. A proposed project of Ramsey Associates was for the construction of a restaurant and other facilities on a tract of land at Ramsey, New Jersey, acquired by Mynard E. Greene, a local real estate broker and contractor. Greene transferred his interest to one Kaplan who in turn transferred his interest to Ramsey Associates.

Weiss and Goldwasser contracted with Greene to clear the land and erect a sign on the property. The price Greene was to receive was $1,830 ($250 of which was for the sign). Greene hired Lucien J. Luckel to supervise the clearing work. The work began. Greene became critically ill. Mrs. Greene asked Maurice H. Ludwin (an attorney and real estate broker interested with Greene in brokerage transactions relating to the project) and Genser to 'take care of things,' as they were long-standing friends of the Greenes. Weiss and Goldwasser heard that dirt fill was being taken onto the property, which they contended was not compliance with their agreement with Greene. They immediately proceeded from New York City to the project and they ordered Luckel to stop work. Ludwin and Genser were also present. Whether there was any representation that Genser represented anyone does not clearly appear. The reason why Genser was present is not definitely established although it would seem throughout the affair he was not acting in the capacity of a lawyer but of one seeking to interlope on some prospective business ventures. Luckel demanded money to meet immediate payrolls (the expense of the work was expressed to be then upwards of $5,000). Weiss and Goldwasser delivered to Genser $1,830 by two checks to his order as 'attorney,' one for $500 and the second for $1,330. Goldwasser testified 'that is what we wanted him to act, as attorney for Greene, to hold the money for Mr. Greene.' Ludwin, though not positive, testified to the effect that he (Ludwin) suggested that Genser hold the money. It seems from all the evidence that it was too late for Weiss and Goldwasser to obtain cash elsewhere and that Genser immediately cashed a check for $500 with money there on his person. Weiss testified that the $500 check could have been for Luckel to meet his current payroll. It appears that Genser cashed the other check, $1,330, on the following Monday.

Luckel gave Genser receipts for $800 which amount he admittedly received. Subsequently Mrs. Greene gave Genser a receipt for $250 for the sign hereinbefore referred to, which money she admittedly received. The balance of $780 ($1,830 less the $800 and $250 payments for which he received receipts) Genser testified he paid to Luckel without obtaining receipts. Luckel denied this. Genser is to some degree corroborated by a Mr. Berger, who was a contractor casually associated businesswise with Genser and Luckel.

There is also testimony surrounding a written instrument between Greene and 'Lucien J. Luckel and Associates' to which Greene's name was forged. Genser, Berger and Luckel had formed a corporation apparently named Luckel Construction Company primarily for anticipated and yearned for electrical work on the project. Luckel's testimony indicates that Berger and Genser were not associated with Luckel in 'Lucien J. Luckel and...

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31 cases
  • In re Hudsar Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of New Jersey
    • 2 Abril 1996
    ... ... But this rule is not all encompassing. Thus, where an attorney assumes a fiduciary obligation, it applies to persons who, though not strictly clients, he has or should have reason to believe rely on him. In re Genser, 15 N.J. 600, 606, 105 A.2d 829 (1954); Drinker, Legal Ethics (1953), at 92. We believe, moreover, that where, as here, an attorney undertakes a duty to one other than his client, he may be liable for damage caused by a breach of that duty to a person intended to be benefited by his performance ... ...
  • Albright v. Burns
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • 16 Enero 1986
    ... ...         Further, a member of the bar owes a fiduciary duty to persons, though not strictly clients, who he knows or should ... know rely on him in his professional capacity. Palmieri, 76 N.J. at 59, 385 A.2d 856; In re Hurd, 69 N.J. 316, 330, 354 A.2d 78 (1976); In re Genser, 15 N.J. 600, 606, 105 A.2d 829 (1954); Stewart v. Sbarro, 142 N.J.Super. 581, 593, 362 A.2d 581 (App.Div.1976), certif. den. 72 N.J. 459, 371 A.2d 63 (1976); Drinker, Legal Ethics (1953), at 92. We think it follows that privity should not be required between the attorney and one harmed by his ... ...
  • Greenberg, In re
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • 21 Marzo 1956
    ... ... See In re Carlsen, 17 N.J. 620 (1955) (three years); In re Backes, 16 N.J. 460, 109 A.2d 273 (1954) (one year); In re Dworkin, 16 N.J. 621 (1954) (one year); In re Howell, 10 N.J. 139, 89 A.2d 652 (1952) (six months); In re Genser, 16 N.J. 619 (1954) (two months); In re Boyle, 18 N.J. 612 (1955) (reprimand). In the ultimate, each case must rest largely upon its own particular circumstances. See In re Carlsen, 17 N.J. 338, 111 A.2d 393 (1955); In re Genser, 15 N.J. 600, 105 A.2d 829 (1954); In re Rothman, 12 N.J. 528, 97 ... ...
  • McCann, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • 7 Junio 1988
    ... ... 493, 498, 502 A.2d 569 (1986); Matter of Huber, 101 N.J. 1, 4, 499 A.2d 220 (1985); In re Suchanoff, 93 N.J. 226, 230, 460 A.2d 642 (1983); In re ... Franklin, 71 N.J. 425, 429, 365 A.2d 1361 (1976); In re Carlson, 17 N.J. 338, 347, 111 A.2d 393 (1955); In re Genser, 15 N.J. 600, 606, 105 A.2d 829 (1954). Any misbehavior, private or professional, which reveals lack of the good character and integrity essential for an attorney, constitutes a basis for discipline. In re La Duca, 62 N.J. 133, 140, 299 A.2d 405 (1973) ...         Respondent's admission ... ...
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