Ryan, In re

Decision Date12 December 1974
Citation329 A.2d 553,66 N.J. 147
PartiesIn the Matter of Juan J. RYAN, An Attorney at Law.
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court

Robert E. Cowen, Trenton, Chief, Central Ethics Unit of the Administrative Office of the Courts, for Central Ethics Unit.

Jacob R. Mantel, Summit, for respondent (Mantel & Thelander, Summit, attorneys).


This is a disciplinary case. Respondent, a member of the bar of this State, was retained by Edward C. Clarke, a New York attorney representing a decedent's estate, to handle the details of the sale of a five-acre tract of vacant land in Atlantic County, New Jersey, owned by the estate. A $2500 offer for the land had been submitted by J. Fred Ellis, Jr., an adjoining property owner, which offer was acceptable to Clarke and the executrix of the estate. Accordingly, on June 29, 1970, Clarke wrote to respondent asking him to prepare a contract of sale to Ellis for $2500, forward it to Ellis for his signature and obtain a downpayment from him. The same day that respondent received the letter he got a telephone call from Ellis, who had obtained respondent's name from the Clarke office, saying he was ready to sign a contract 'right now.' Respondent told Ellis that his secretary was going on vacation for the next few weeks and that respondent would 'get to this after she returns.' About a week later, respondent telephoned Clarke and 'indicated that it was a sort of a low price on the property and that he'd like to take a look at it and see what it was like.' Clarke assented, and a few days later respondent drove to Atlantic County and inspected the property. He liked the property, 'thought it was beautiful,' and got in touch with Clarke who said he had no objection to respondent making a personal offer for the property, whereupon respondent submitted a bid of $3000. Clarke took the matter up with the executrix who was told that the new offer had been made by the New Jersey attorney who had been engaged to represent the estate. According to Clarke, she had no objection to respondent purchasing the property himself and was satisfied with the higher offer. Respondent immediately prepared and caused to be executed a contract of sale naming his wife as the purchaser. In February 1971, after certain title matters had been cleared, the property was conveyed to Mrs. Ryan for a purchase price of $3000.

In the meantime, in early August 1970, Ellis, having heard nothing from respondent, wrote to him about the contract. Respondent did not answer Ellis' letter. Ellis next telephoned respondent, also in early August 1970, and was told by respondent that the property had been sold for a higher price. Ellis then called Clarke who verified the information and told Ellis that 'he understood the sale was final.'

Neither respondent nor Clarke told Ellis that respondent was the purchaser, nor was Ellis afforded the opportunity to sumit a higher offer. Ellis did not find out until a year later that respondent had purchased the property in his wife's name for $3000. Respondent sold the property on April 17, 1973 for $10,000.

Ellis filed a complaint with the Union County Ethics Committee which, after a full hearing, concluded that, since there was no attorney-client relationship between respondent and Ellis, and since full disclosure had been made to the executrix of the estate, respondent had not violated any of the canons of ethics. The Committee also found that respondent's conduct was not in violation of this Court's holding in In re Gavel, 22 N.J. 248, 125 A.2d 696 (1956). Accordingly, the Union County Ethic's Committee decision, dated February 16, 1974, was that the charges against respondent should be dismissed.

Ellis wrote to the Administrative Director of the Courts expressing his dissatisfaction with the foregoing decision. The matter was referred to the Central Ethics Unit of the Administrative Office of the Courts which, after investigation, filed a petition with this Court charging respondent with unethical conduct. On September 23, 1974 respondent was ordered to show cause why he should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

The essential facts heretofore set forth are undisputed. Respondent contends that he cannot be found guilty of any ethical infraction since the record demonstrates that there was no attorney-client relationship between him and Ellis, and there had been a full disclosure made to respondent's...

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10 cases
  • Yaccarino, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1989
    ...140-41, 474 A.2d 594 (1984). Respondent's attempts to conceal his interests is tantamount to actual misrepresentation. In re Ryan, 66 N.J. 147, 150, 329 A.2d 553 (1974). This is inconsistent with the professional obligations of an attorney, who "should strive at all times to uphold the hono......
  • Rosner, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1988
    ...advice and undivided loyalty to either Davis or Schoemaker. In re Wolk, 82 N.J. 326, 333, 413 A.2d 317 (1980). See In re Ryan, 66 N.J. 147, 150, 329 A.2d 553 (1974). His judgment was clouded by self-interest. See Matter of Reiss, 101 N.J. 475, 487, 502 A.2d 560 (1986). As an attorney, respo......
  • Servance, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • May 9, 1986
    ...to be incredible. The Board concludes that Respondent's conduct "fell far short of the high standards expected of him." In re Ryan, 66 N.J. 147, 150, 329 A.2d 553 (1974). While there was no attorney-client relationship, each complainant knew Respondent was an attorney and trusted him to act......
  • Herman, Matter of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • July 17, 1987
    ...to adhere to the high standard required by a member of the bar even though his activities do not involve the practice of law. In re Ryan, 66 N.J. 147, 150 (1974); In re Carlson, 17 N.J. 338, 346 (1955); In re Genser, 15 N.J. 600, 606 (1954); [In re Franklin, 71 N.J. 425, 429, 365 A.2d 1361 ......
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