Hasbrouck, Matter of

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation140 N.J. 162,657 A.2d 878
PartiesIn the Matter of Patricia Lynn HASBROUCK, An Attorney at Law.
Decision Date12 May 1995

Page 162

140 N.J. 162
657 A.2d 878
In the Matter of Patricia Lynn HASBROUCK, An Attorney at Law.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Jan. 4, 1995.
Decided May 12, 1995.

Walton W. Kingsbery, III, Deputy Ethics Counsel, for Office of Atty. Ethics.

Stephen S. Weinstein, Morristown, for respondent (Mr. Weinstein, attorney; Mr. Weinstein and Peter N. Gilbreth, of counsel and on the brief).

PER CURIAM.

This is an attorney-disciplinary case in which the attorney's ethics violations are based on the commission of offenses relating to controlled dangerous substances. The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) commenced this disciplinary proceeding by filing a motion before the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB), seeking final discipline of respondent, Patricia Lynn Hasbrouck, pursuant to Rule 1:20-2 for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC ). The motion was based on respondent's arrest and admission into a Pre-Trial Intervention program (PTI) for obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud and for uttering a forged prescription. Although respondent did not plead guilty and was not found guilty of either offense, she stipulated that her conduct had violated RPC 8.4(b), commission of a criminal act adversely reflecting on honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, and RPC 8.4(d), conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Thus, the sole issue is the appropriate measure of discipline.

The DRB unanimously recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year, but that the suspension be suspended while she continue outpatient treatment for one year and be subject to periodic drug testing to confirm that she remain drug free. Under this regime, the DRB recommended

Page 165

that the suspension go into effect only if respondent failed to meet those conditions.

Our independent review of the record leads us to reject the DRB's recommendation of a suspended suspension and order respondent's immediate suspension from the practice of law for one year.

I

The facts underlying the arrest are not in dispute. Respondent was admitted to practice law in New Jersey in 1981. She has been in private practice in Washington, Warren County.

An unspecified number of years ago, respondent began suffering from migraine headaches. Her father, a physician, prescribed the pain-killing medication, darvocet, for her. Gradually, she started taking the medication more frequently. In 1986, she began taking sheets from her father's prescription pads and forging prescriptions for the drug. At first, respondent had the prescriptions filled only at local pharmacies so the prescription would not be questioned. As she needed to have prescriptions filled more frequently, she traveled greater distances. In 1989, she switched from darvocet to vicodin. When respondent's father retired, his office supplies, including prescription pads, were stored at respondent's home. Respondent wrote prescriptions for herself, not only in her name, but also in the names of her husband and her sister.

On April 12, 1993, respondent was apprehended attempting to have a prescription filled in her sister's name. The pharmacist had called the telephone number on the prescription for verification and learned that respondent's father had been retired for over one year. The pharmacist telephoned the police. Respondent was arrested on that date for violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1a(3), uttering a forged prescription, and violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-13, obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud.

Page 166

In a statement to the Morris County Prosecutor, respondent admitted the facts underlying the charges. In the criminal proceeding,[657 A.2d 880] respondent executed a Waiver of Indictment and was admitted to the PTI program by order dated August 2, 1993. Respondent entered Clear Brook Manor on April 17, 1993, completed the prescribed twenty-eight day program for substance abuse and was discharged on May 15, 1993.

In disciplinary proceedings, respondent admitted that she had violated RPC 8.4(b) and (d). The OAE recommended a six-month suspension, based on this Court's decision in In re Adubato, 106 N.J. 655 (1987). The DRB found, however, that more severe discipline was warranted, and thus recommended a one-year suspension. However, the DRB recommended that the suspension itself should be suspended, finding that "no useful purpose [would] be served by imposing an active suspension on this attorney."

II

The privilege to practice law is dependant on an attorney's ability to maintain a high moral character. In re La Duca, 62 N.J. 133, 140, 299 A.2d 405 (1973); In re Gavel, 22 N.J. 248, 266, 125 A.2d 696 (1956); In re Pennica, 36 N.J. 401, 433-34, 177 A.2d 721 (1962). Indeed, this requirement inheres in our paramount concern in the administration of attorney discipline for the maintenance of public confidence in the integrity of the bar. In re Kaufman, 104 N.J. 509, 513, 518 A.2d 185 (1986). A criminal conviction is conclusive evidence of an attorney's guilt in disciplinary proceedings. R. 1:20-6(b)(1); In re Kinnear, 105 N.J. 391, 395, 522 A.2d 414 (1987). Yet, it is the ethics rules, and not the criminal statutes, that regulate the privilege to practice law in this State. A deviation from those rules can bring about disciplinary measures administered by this Court.

Respondent admitted that she violated RPC 8.4(b) and (d). Although respondent was not convicted of a crime, she stipulated that her conduct constituted the commission of a crime. Because

Page 167

that behavior does not comport with the ethics rules governing attorney conduct, respondent must be disciplined.

Moreover, discipline is proper and will be invoked even though respondent's conduct did not arise from a lawyer/client relationship, that her behavior was not related to the practice of law or that her offense was not committed in her professional capacity. In re Suchanoff, 93 N.J. 226, 230, 460 A.2d 642 (1983); In re Kinnear, supra, 105 N.J. at 395, 522 A.2d 414. Any misbehavior, private or professional, that reveals a lack of good character and integrity essential for a person to practice as an attorney constitutes a basis for discipline. In re La Duca, supra, 62 N.J. at 140, 299 A.2d 405; In re Gavel, supra, 22 N.J. at 266, 125 A.2d 696; In re Franklin, 71 N.J. 425, 429, 365 A.2d 1361 (1976). An attorney is obligated to adhere to the high standard of conduct required by a member of the bar, even though her activities do not involve the practice of law and do not directly affect her clients. In re Suchanoff, supra, 93 N.J. at 230, 460 A.2d...

To continue reading

Request your trial
38 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...of good character and integrity essential for a person to practice as an attorney constitutes a basis for discipline. Matter of Hasbrouck, 657 A.2d 878 (N.J. 1995); In re LaDuca, 140, 299 A.2d 405 (N.J. 1973). That a person's activity does not arise from a lawyer-client relationship, that t......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...of good character and integrity essential for a person to practice as an attorney constitutes a basis for discipline. Matter of Hasbrouck, 657 A.2d 878 (N.J. 1995); In re LaDuca, 140, 299 A.2d 405 (N.J. 1973). That a person's activity does not arise from a lawyer-client relationship, that t......
  • Hasbrouck, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • January 30, 1998
    ...for a period of one year for obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud and for uttering a forged prescription. In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 657 A.2d 878 (1995). Respondent has not yet sought to be restored to On motion of the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) for final discipline,......
  • Pepe, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 30, 1995
    ...the only issue to be determined is the appropriate quantum of discipline for respondent's misconduct. Ibid.; see In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 164, 657 A.2d 878 (1995) (noting that when ethics violations are admitted, focus of the disciplinary proceeding is on extent of discipline). Determ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Hasbrouck, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • January 30, 1998
    ...for a period of one year for obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud and for uttering a forged prescription. In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 657 A.2d 878 (1995). Respondent has not yet sought to be restored to On motion of the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) for final discipline,......
  • Pepe, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 30, 1995
    ...the only issue to be determined is the appropriate quantum of discipline for respondent's misconduct. Ibid.; see In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 164, 657 A.2d 878 (1995) (noting that when ethics violations are admitted, focus of the disciplinary proceeding is on extent of discipline). Determ......
  • In re Ferriero, Docket No. DRB 18-343
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • May 1, 2019
    ...although not committed in the attorney'sPage 10 professional capacity, may, nevertheless, warrant discipline. In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 167 (1995). The obligation of an attorney to maintain the high standard of conduct required by a member of the bar applies even to activities that may......
  • In re Halpern, Docket No. DRB 19-356
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 4, 2020
    ...shortcomings, although not committed in the attorney's professional capacity, may, nevertheless, warrant discipline. In re Hasbrouck, 140 N.J. 162, 167 (1995). The obligation of an attorney to maintain the highPage 16 standard of conduct required by a member of the bar applies even to activ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT