Leahey, Matter of

Decision Date08 May 1990
Citation573 A.2d 155,118 N.J. 578
PartiesIn the Matter of Matthew A. LEAHEY, an Attorney at Law.
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court

Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in New Jersey in 1977. On February 28, 1989, respondent was charged in a Federal Information, filed in United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, with three counts of failure to file personal income tax returns for the calendar years 1982, 1983, and 1984, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7203. On March 23, 1989, respondent entered a guilty plea to the third count of the information, failure to file in 1984. Thereafter, on March 27, 1989, respondent notified the Office of Attorney Ethics of this plea through counsel. Respondent was sentenced to a probationary term of three years and a fine of $10,000 on May 4, 1989. In addition, the following conditions were imposed: (1) respondent must properly file delinquent returns as well as returns coming due during his probation, and make full restitution of all taxes, interest and penalties owed; (2) respondent, at the discretion of the probation office, must participate in a substance abuse program.


In disciplinary proceedings, a criminal conviction is conclusive evidence of respondent's guilt. Matter of Goldberg, 105 N.J. 278, 280, 520 A.2d 1147 (1987); Matter of Tuso, 104 N.J. 59, 61, 514 A.2d 1311 (1986); In re Rosen, 88 N.J. 1, 3, 438 A.2d 316 (1981); R. 1:20-6(b)(1). Therefore, no independent examination of the underlying facts is necessary to ascertain guilt. In re Bricker, 90 N.J. 6, 10, 446 A.2d 1195 (1982). The only issue to be determined is the quantum of discipline to be imposed. Matter of Goldberg, supra, 105 N.J. at 280, 520 A.2d 1147; Matter of Kaufman, 104 N.J. 509, 510, 518 A.2d 185 (1986); Matter of Kushner, 101 N.J. 397, 400, 502 A.2d 32 (1986); In re Addonizio, 95 N.J. 121, 123-124, 469 A.2d 492 (1984); In re Infinito, 94 N.J. 50, 56, 462 A.2d 160 (1983).

Respondent's conviction clearly and convincingly demonstrates he engaged in a criminal act that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer, in violation of RPC 8.4(b).

The illegal activity underlying respondent's conviction is not related to the practice of law. See Matter of Kinnear, 105 N.J. 391, 395, 522 A.2d 414 (1987). Nonetheless, good moral character is a basic condition for membership in the bar. In re Gavel, 22 N.J. 248, 266, 125 A.2d 696 (1956). Any misbehavior, private or professional, that reveals lack of the good character and integrity essential for an attorney, constitutes a basis for discipline. In re LaDuca, 62 N.J. 133, 140, 299 A.2d 405 (1973). That respondent's activity did not arise from a lawyer-client relationship, that his behavior was not related to the practice of law or that this offense was not committed in his professional capacity is immaterial. 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).

The crime for which respondent was convicted is serious. As stated by Chief Justice Vanderbilt:

Taxes are the lifeblood of government and no taxpayer should be permitted to escape the payment of his just share of the burden of contributing thereto.

[Appeal of N.Y. State Realty and Terminal Co., 21 N.J. 90, 96, 121 A.2d 21 (1956) (citations omitted).]

Disciplinary cases in New Jersey involving willful failure to file income...

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4 cases
  • In re Halpern
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • June 4, 2020
  • In re Steph
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2018
  • People v. Abelman
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1991
    ... ... of the multiple instances of misconduct, and because the ethical violations are not so remote in time to compel a different result, see In re Leahey, 118 N.J. 578, 582, 573 A.2d 155, 157 (1990) (rejecting retroactive suspension and distinguishing Kotok where misconduct occurred five years before ... ...
  • Weiss, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • May 8, 1990

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