The Ethical Esquire

Helping attorneys navigate ethics rules and reduce their potential exposure

A recent Appellate Division case exposes the pitfalls of “judge-shopping” by a former law clerk with the cooperation of the judge. In Goldfarb v. Solimine, Docket No.  A-3740-16T2, (June 26, 2019) the panel ruled that a plaintiff alleging promissory estoppel in an employment context was entitled to a new trial on damages after an unusual practice was exposed, and after the now-retired trial judge refused to recuse herself. Just prior to trial, the judge’s former…
A recent Appellate Division decision illustrates the importance of a solid engagement letter that sets forth both the scope of the engagement as well as any limitations on the scope, i.e., what the lawyer is not being retained to do. In Murphy v. Shaw, Docket No. L-0869-13 (decided June 21, 2019), the lawyer was successful in having a verdict against him reversed. But the real dispute was over the scope of the engagement. The client…
The New Jersey Appellate Division recently confirmed how important it is to comply with procedural court rules, especially when the Court has given guidance as to how to comply with them.  In Cuomo v. TSI Ridgewood, Docket No A-4898-17T4, Defendant’s attorneys failed to comply with the requirements of electronic filing, as well as the submission of a filing fee. While Defendants claimed inadvertent error (their lawyer tried to pay the $200 fee by check) and…
The Appellate Division recently permitted a law firm to proceed with litigation against a former expert who had been poised to provide expert testimony on behalf of the law firm’s clients in a medical malpractice proceeding.  Prior to trial, the expert declined to participate, and the court denied the clients’ request for leave to seek another expert.  Thereafter, the action was dismissed.  Following the dismissal, the law firm filed an action against the expert on…
The New Jersey Appellate Division recently said no.  The Client in that case hired Attorney 1 to pursue an employment claim under a contract of employment that contained an arbitration clause as well as a Delaware choice of law clause. Approximately three years later, Client fires Attorney 1 and hires Attorney 2.  Attorney 2 files an arbitration demand within one month of being retained.  Unfortunately, Delaware’s three year statute of limitations had already run,…
A recent Appellate Division decision serves as a reminder to attorneys to ensure that they have received proper authorization from their clients to settle a matter.  In Jesus Gonzalez v. Electronic Integration Services, LLC t/a Panurgy OEM, Docket No. A-0251-18T3 (App. Div. May 30, 2019), the court considered an appeal of a trial court’s order enforcing a settlement made on the record.  Counsel – who had represented the defendant throughout the litigation – had appeared…