Kornreich, Matter of

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; Respondent's further testimony that she had been unable to hear what Mr. Brodsky had placed on the record about the dismissal and about the charges against Ms. Franson is not credible. Mr. Brodsky testified that he was sitting with respon
Citation693 A.2d 877,149 N.J. 346
Decision Date23 May 1997
PartiesIn the Matter of Chen KORNREICH, An Attorney at Law.

Page 346

149 N.J. 346
693 A.2d 877
In the Matter of Chen KORNREICH, An Attorney at Law.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Dec. 2, 1996.
Decided May 23, 1997.

Walton W. Kingsbery, III, Deputy Ethics Counsel, argued the cause on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.

Brian J. Neary, Hackensack, for respondent (Mr. Neary, attorney; Mr. Neary and Yung-Mi Lee, on the brief).

PER CURIAM.

This is an attorney-disciplinary case. Respondent Chen Kornreich was charged with motor-vehicular offenses arising from a car accident with another motorist. Thereafter, respondent misled the municipal court, as well as her own attorney, into believing that her full-time babysitter had been the driver of the car at the time of the accident. As a result of those misrepresentations, the charges against respondent were dismissed and respondent's employee was charged with the motor-vehicle offenses. At that point, respondent unsuccessfully attempted to arrange for her employee not to appear at trial to defend against those charges. When respondent's scheme came to light, the charges against the employee were dismissed.

Page 349

The matter was referred to the county prosecutor, who charged respondent with criminal offenses based on her conduct. The criminal charges eventually were dismissed after respondent completed the pretrial-intervention program.

The Office of Attorney Ethics also investigated the matter and initiated disciplinary proceedings with the filing of a formal ethics complaint against respondent. She was charged with violations of RPC 3.3(a)(1) (knowingly making a false statement of material fact to a tribunal); RPC 3.3(a)(4) (knowingly offering false evidence); RPC 3.3(a)(5) (failing to disclose to a tribunal a material fact with knowledge that the tribunal may tend to be misled by such failure); RPC 3.4(b) (falsifying evidence, counseling, or assisting a witness to testify falsely, or offering an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law); RPC 3.4(f) (requesting a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party); RPC 8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects); RPC 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and RPC 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

The District Ethics Committee found respondent guilty of ethics violations and recommended imposition of a six-month suspension. [693 A.2d 879] The Disciplinary Review Board also determined that respondent was guilty of ethics violations, but it recommended a suspension of one year.

Following respondent's petition to review the DRB's determination, this Court ordered respondent to show cause why she should not be disbarred or otherwise suspended from practice.

I

We recite in detail the facts that we have found by clear and convincing evidence based upon our independent review of the record. That detail is provided to dissipate any possible doubt concerning the factual basis for the Court's ultimate determination

Page 350

that respondent is guilty of serious ethics violations and that severe discipline is warranted.

A.

On March 16, 1989, at approximately 5:37 p.m., respondent's leased car (a 1989 maroon Mazda) was involved in a car accident with Susan Yezzi, who was driving a 1988 Chrysler New Yorker. The accident, which involved minor dents and scrapes, occurred in the parking lot of Marlboro Plaza, a shopping center in Marlboro. At the time, respondent, who had been admitted to the New Jersey and New York bars in 1985 when she was twenty-three years of age, was twenty-six years old and a sole practitioner in Manalapan, Monmouth County.

According to Yezzi, after the accident, she exited her car and walked toward respondent's car, encouraging respondent to get out of her car to exchange information. Respondent then left the scene of the accident without getting out of her car or exchanging information with Yezzi. Before respondent drove away, Yezzi was able to write down the Mazda's license number and to see respondent clearly for about two minutes.

After respondent drove away, Yezzi completed her errands at Marlboro Plaza and went home. Once at home, she called the police and provided details of her version of the accident. Officer Martin Smith of the Marlboro Township Police Department was assigned to the case and wrote the accident report that same day. Yezzi provided him with the license plate number of the other car, and, after some investigation, he obtained the identity of the car's owner, namely, respondent.

After discovering respondent's identity and address, Smith proceeded to her house, which was in the same development as Yezzi's. He was greeted by Angelique Franson, respondent's live-in babysitter, who informed him that respondent and her husband were on vacation. He asked her who normally drove the Mazda, and she answered that respondent was the primary driver. Smith then inspected the car, took some pictures, and compared the

Page 351

damage to that done to Yezzi's vehicle. His inspection revealed almost identical damage to the two cars, thus leaving little doubt that they had been in the same accident.

Several days after his conversation with Franson and his inspection of the Mazda, Smith returned to respondent's home and spoke with her. He asked her if she had been involved in an accident on March 16, to which she answered that she had not been. He then asked her if she had been in Marlboro Plaza on that date and, if she had been, if anything had happened. She responded that she had been in the parking lot and that a woman had chased her. (Smith's recounting of this statement by respondent was essentially identical in both his police report and his in-court testimony.) Smith returned to respondent's home on April 11, 1989 to investigate further. Respondent again denied having been involved in the accident. Her husband, Anderson D. Harkov, who was also an attorney, was present, and he, with respondent's backing, threatened to sue Smith if he continued with the investigation. Harkov also stated that he was respondent's attorney and that Smith was therefore not to speak with her.

Shortly thereafter, Smith caused summonses to issue, charging respondent with failing to report an accident, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-130, and leaving the scene of an accident, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. The first hearing on the matter was scheduled for July 24, 1989 in municipal court.

[693 A.2d 880] Before the hearing, respondent engaged Charles Brodsky, the father of one of her friends, as her attorney. Respondent and Brodsky have very different accounts of what occurred during their meeting prior to the July 24 court date. Brodsky claims that respondent completely denied involvement in the accident, although she told him that she had had a dispute with a woman about a parking spot, resulting in the woman chasing her with a pocketbook. Brodsky then examined the two cars and concluded, as had Smith, that the two had been involved in the same accident. When Brodsky confronted respondent with the results of his investigation, she continued to deny involvement. However, she

Page 352

provided Brodsky with an alibi, namely, that she had not driven the Mazda on that day, that she had been driven around by others, and that she had been in a meeting with a private investigator (regarding a case) between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. She later provided Brodsky with an affidavit to that effect from the investigator. She also told Brodsky that at about 6:00 p.m., she and her husband had picked up their Toyota from an auto-repair shop. She stated that the incident at Marlboro Plaza regarding the parking space had occurred at 8:00 p.m.

According to Brodsky, respondent then implicated Franson. She stated that Franson had a bank account at the Columbia Savings Bank, which is located at Marlboro Plaza, that the bank had been open until 7:00 p.m. on the day of the accident, and that Franson had been paid on the day of the accident, thus requiring her to deposit the money in her account. She stated that she knew that Franson had made the deposit because Franson had asked to borrow the Mazda to do so. Later, however, after the second municipal-court hearing on September 14, 1989, Brodsky obtained a document from Franson's bank showing that no transactions had been posted to her account on either the day of the accident, March 16, 1989, or the following day. Respondent also provided Brodsky with a photo of Franson (to demonstrate that respondent and Franson had similar appearances) and a copy of the family's auto-insurance policy, which listed Franson as an insured driver of the car. Brodsky never spoke with Franson because Franson had left the State and was living in Oregon.

On July 24, Smith, respondent, respondent's husband, Brodsky, and Yezzi were all in court. Before the hearing on the matter, the judge met with Brodsky, Brodsky's daughter (who is also an attorney), and the municipal prosecutor in chambers. Respondent was not present. Brodsky informed the court and Smith that he would present evidence that Franson, not respondent, had been the driver of the car. He later testified that he had made this representation to the court based on the evidence that respondent provided him, namely, the affidavit from the private investigator

Page 353

and the information about Franson's bank account and her use of the car to make a deposit. The court then indicated that it would dismiss the charges against respondent. Smith was called into chambers and informed of the disposition and Franson's implication in the offenses; he later issued summonses against Franson, charging her with the same violations with which respondent initially had been charged.

After the conference in chambers, the municipal prosecutor informed Yezzi,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 practice notes
  • People v. Olson, Case Number: 15PDJ062 consolidated with 16PDJ007
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • July 25, 2016
    ...induce or assist a prospective witness to evade or ignore process obliging the witness to appear and testify").60 See In re Kornreich , 149 N.J. 346, 693 A.2d 877, 883 (1997) (finding a violation of RPC 3.4(f) when a lawyer attempted to deter a witness from returning from another state to t......
  • In re Yohan Choi, DRB 20-074
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • March 24, 2021
    ...of RPC 3.3(a)(1) and (2), RPC 3.5(b), and RPC 8.4(c) and (d); two prior private reprimands [now admonitions]); and In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346 (1997) (three-year suspension for attorney who had been involved in an automobile accident and then misrepresented to the police, to her lawyer, a......
  • Pomerantz, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 17, 1998
    ...false accusations against a young woman, her babysitter. Two members of the Court dissented, voting for disbarment. In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346, 693 A.2d 877 (1997). As in [714 A.2d 243] Kornreich, respondent's malicious denigration of an innocent party's good name should not be Page 137 ......
  • In re Segal, Docket No. DRB 20-072
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • February 11, 2021
    ...and welfare concerns of society, the offense will ordinarily require disbarment." Id. at 370 (citation omitted). In In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346 (1997), the Court, building on both Verdiramo and Giordano, once again underscored that "[d]isbarment is normally the appropriate discipline for ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • People v. Olson, Case Number: 15PDJ062 consolidated with 16PDJ007
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • July 25, 2016
    ...or assist a prospective witness to evade or ignore process obliging the witness to appear and testify").60 See In re Kornreich , 149 N.J. 346, 693 A.2d 877, 883 (1997) (finding a violation of RPC 3.4(f) when a lawyer attempted to deter a witness from returning from another state to tes......
  • In re Yohan Choi, DRB 20-074
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • March 24, 2021
    ...of RPC 3.3(a)(1) and (2), RPC 3.5(b), and RPC 8.4(c) and (d); two prior private reprimands [now admonitions]); and In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346 (1997) (three-year suspension for attorney who had been involved in an automobile accident and then misrepresented to the police, to her lawyer, a......
  • Pomerantz, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 17, 1998
    ...false accusations against a young woman, her babysitter. Two members of the Court dissented, voting for disbarment. In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346, 693 A.2d 877 (1997). As in [714 A.2d 243] Kornreich, respondent's malicious denigration of an innocent party's good name should not be Page 137 ......
  • In re Segal, Docket No. DRB 20-072
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • February 11, 2021
    ...and welfare concerns of society, the offense will ordinarily require disbarment." Id. at 370 (citation omitted). In In re Kornreich, 149 N.J. 346 (1997), the Court, building on both Verdiramo and Giordano, once again underscored that "[d]isbarment is normally the appropriate disci......
  • 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