Friday, July 29, 2016

Ethics officials recommend "reprimand" for former Cumberland County Freeholder Deputy Director and impose an "admonition" upon his law partner.

On July 29, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court's Disciplinary Review Board recommended that an attorney ethics complaint filed in 2014 against former Cumberland County Freeholder Deputy Director (and now Cumberland County Democratic Party Committee Chairman) Douglas M. Long be resolved with a "reprimand."  The Board also imposed an "admonition" upon Long's law partner Albert K. Marmero. 

An admonition is the mildest form of discipline that can be imposed and a reprimand is the second mildest.  The types of discipline that can be imposed, in order of severity, are admonition, reprimand, censure, license suspension and disbarment.  The Board has the authority to impose an admonition, as it did with Marmero, but higher levels of discipline including a reprimand must be ordered by the Supreme Court.

In the ethics complaint, the OAE had charged that Long's and Marmero's law firm trust account funds were being "regularly invaded and utilized as a 'line of credit' to fund the firm's operating expenses."  In a September 5, 2014 Random Notes on NJ Government article, I called out Long and Marmero for suggesting in filed documents that the firm's bookkeeper, without Long's or Marmero's knowledge, reached out to Long's brother for a $10,000 cash loan to keep the firm's accounts from being overdrawn.

The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), with both Long's and Marmero's consent, had filed Motions for Discipline by Consent to resolve both matters. In Long's case the OAE recommended a discipline within a range of a reprimand to a three-month suspension.  In Marmero's case, the OAE recommended a "reprimand or such lesser discipline as the Board may deem warranted."

In making its recommendation, the Board found that Long had "made extraordinary contributions to his community" including heading up an effort to make 400 backpacks and school supplies available to needy Vineland children.  The Board also noted that Long, who previously worked for an engineering company and performed limited in-house counsel work "had no experience or involvement with trust accounting or recordkeeping.  The Board also credited Marmero for his firm's community service and his "unblemished career of thirteen years at the bar."