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					                        SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
                      DISTRICT IIIB ETHICS COMMITTEE

Nancy E. Whatley Griffin, Esq., Presenter
129 High Street
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
Phone: 609-267-0505
Fax: 609-518-0330



DISTRICT IIIB ETHICS COMMITTEE,      :   DOCKET NOS: IIIB-01-036E
                                     :
           Complainant,              :
                                     :   DISCIPLINARY ACTION
     vs.                             :
                                     :   COMPLAINT FOR MISCONDUCT
KEVIN S. QUINLAN                     :
                                     :
           Respondent,               :   R. 1:20-4




     District IIIB Ethics Committee by way of complaint against

Respondent, says:

                           GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

     1.    Kevin S. Quinlan (Respondent) was admitted to the Bar of

this State in 1993.

     2.    Respondent maintains an alleged law office address at 207

West Main Street, Tuckerton, County of Ocean, State of New Jersey

08087.

                               FIRST COUNT

                             (Communication)

     1.    On, or about, November 30, 2000, Respondent represented the

Grievant at a real estate closing.
     2.    During the closing, there was an agreement that was reduced

to writing by the Respondent known as the “Escrow Agreement”.

     3.    The Escrow Agreement indicated “the Seller, James J. Miller,

Sr. and the Buyer, Louis A. Aquila and Joan Aquila, for the property

located at 421 National Union Blvd., in the Township of Little Egg

Harbor, County of Ocean, State of New Jersey hereby agree that the sum

of $1,000.00 from the proceeds of the sale of said property shall be

held in escrow by Kevin S. Quinlan, Esquire, until the following items

have been addressed or upon default of seller:”

     4.    The Escrow agreement went on to say the “Seller agrees to

make the following repairs within 14 days;”. Thereafter there was a

list of seven items that the Seller was required to repair.

     5.    The Seller and both Buyers signed the Escrow Agreement.

     6.    The Seller defaulted on the Escrow Agreement and did not

complete items numbered 1, 2 and 3.

     7.    The Grievant, Mr. Aquila, attempted to contact the

Respondent, Mr. Quinlan, to inform him of the Seller’s default.

     8.    The Grievant alleges Mr. Quinlan never returned any of his

telephone calls.

     9.    The Grievant went to the Respondent’s office on three

separate occasions to try to see him.

     10.   The Respondent did not see the Grievant during those office

visits.
     11.   Respondent’s conduct violated RPC 1.4 Communication, which

in relevant part provides as follows:

     “(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed

     about the status of the matter and promptly reply

     with reasonable requests for information.”

                              SECOND COUNT

                         (Safekeeping Property)

     12.   Each and every previous allegation of the previous Count of

this Complaint is hereby repeated as if set forth fully herein.

     13.   The Respondent failed to get the Grievant’s authorization to

release the escrow fund to the Seller.

     14.   The Respondent returned the escrow monies to the Seller.

     15.   By letter dated May 24, 2002, the Respondent admitted he

returned the escrow monies to the Seller without the Grievant’s

authorization.

     16.   Respondent’s conduct violated RPC 1:15 Safekeeping Property,

which in relevant part provides as follows:

     “(b) Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or

     third person has an interest, a lawyer should properly notify the

     client or third person. Except as stated in this Rule or

     otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a

     lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any

     funds or other property that the client or third person is

     entitled to receive.”
                               THIRD COUNT

                          (Failure to Cooperate)

     17.   Each and every previous allegation of the previous Count of

this Complaint is hereby repeated as if set forth fully herein.

     18.   On, or about, July 17, 2002, the Respondent agreed to make

the Grievant whole by drafting a simple agreement to be signed by both

parties. In the agreement he was to promise to make the repairs of the

“bubbled vinyl siding in front of house and the gap in the siding in

the rear of the house”.

     19.   The Respondent failed to complete the making of the simple

agreement and complying with making the Grievant whole.

     20.   Respondent’s conduct violated Rule 1:20-3(g)(4), which in

relevant part provides as follows:

     If a Respondent fails to cooperate either by not replying in

     writing to a request for information or by not producing the

     attorney client and/or business file or accounting records for

     inspection and review, the Office of Attorney Ethics may file and

     serve a Motion for Temporary Suspension with the Supreme Court,

     together with Proof of Service. The failure of a Respondent to

     file a response in opposition to the motion may result in the

     entry of an Order of Temporary Suspension without oral argument

     until further order of the Court. An attorney temporarily

     suspended under this Rule may apply to the Court for
reinstatement on proof of compliance with subsection (3) of this

paragraph on notice to the Office on Attorney Ethics.

WHEREFORE, Respondent should be disciplined.

                              DISTRICT IIIB ETHICS COMMITTEE

DATED: October 25, 2002       /s/ Nancy E. Whatley Griffin, Esq.
                         SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
                       DISTRICT IIIB ETHICS COMMITTEE

Kevin S. Quinlan, Esq.
207 West Main Street
Tuckerton, NJ 08087
Phone: 609-296-6400
Fax: 609-296-7237
Respondent Pro-Se



DISTRICT IIIB ETHICS COMMITTEE,      :    DOCKET NOS: IIIB-01-036E
                                     :
           Complainant,              :
                                     :    DISCIPLINARY ACTION
     vs.                             :
                                     :    VERIFIED ANSWER
KEVIN S. QUINLAN                     :
                                     :
           Respondent,               :




     By way of answer to the Complaint brought by the District IIIB

Ethics Committee, Respondent says:

                            GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

     1.    ADMITTED.

     2.    ADMITTED.

                                FIRST COUNT

     1.    ADMITTED.

     2.    ADMITTED.

     3.    ADMITTED.

     4.    ADMITTED.

     5.    ADMITTED.

     6.    ADMI1TED.
     7.    ADMITTED.

     8.    ADMITTED to the extent I did not personally return the

grievant’s calls. Office staff relayed messages on several occasion.

     9.    ADMITTED.

     10.   ADMITTED. No appointments were made. Visits were unannounced

when I was not available.

     11.   ADMITTED. I should have spoken directly with grievant rather

than rely upon messages relayed through staff.

                              SECOND COUNT

     13.   ADMITTED.

     14.   ADMITTED.

     15.   ADMITTED.

     16.   ADMITTED.

                              THIRD COUNT

     18.   ADMITTED.

     19.   DENIED. I spoke with grievant who was in agreement with

proposed resolution. The only issue grievant was interested in having

fixed was the bubbled siding. I advised grievant I would hire, at my

sole cost and expense, a licensed and insured contractor to make the

necessary repairs. Grievant’s only concern was that since he was

leaving for the winter he didn’t want the matter closed until he

returned to inspect. I indicated that was understandable. This was

relayed to the investigator. It was my understanding that the

investigator would proceed with an Agreement in Lieu of Discipline
under section 41.5. Apparently the investigator was waiting for me to

provide a written agreement outlining my conversation with the

grievant. When the investigator did not receive the agreement this was

interpreted as non-cooperation and she proceeded with the within

complaint. I remain ready, willing an able to resolve the matter to

the grievant’s satisfaction. When I last spoke with grievant he was

leaving for Florida and provided me a telephone number. When called

the number it was not an active number. I then called grievant’s

Staten Island home and was able to obtain a mailing address in New

York for grievant. The phone message on the Staten Island number

advises callers not to leave messages but to contact them by mail and

provides the address for a P.O. Box in Staten Island which I assume is

being forwarded. I believe I can contact grievant through this mailing

address prior to his return to New Jersey and New York sometime this

spring.

     20.   DENIED.

     I would like to ability to complete a diversion of this matter

which I believe is fully satisfactory to the grievant. Procedures have

been put in place in my office to avoid a similar error in the future.

Dated: December 2, 2002            /s/ Kevin S. Quinlan, Respondent
                            CERTIFICATION



    1.   I am the respondent in the above entitled matter.

    2.   I have read the foregoing Answer and on my own personal

knowledge I know the facts set forth herein are true and they are

incorporated in this certification by reference.

    3.   I certify that the above statements made by me are true. I

am aware that if any of the foregoing statements made by me are

willfully false, I am subject to punishment and discipline.

Dated: December 2, 2002           /s/ Kevin S. Quinlan, Respondent
OFFICE OF ATTORNEY ETHICS,           :
                                     :   DOCKET NO: IIIB-01-036E
           Complainant,              :
                                     :
     vs.                             :   DISCIPLINARY ACTION
                                     :
KEVIN S. QUINLAN,                    :   HEARING REPORT
                                     :   RECOMMENDING ADMONITION
           Respondent,               :


     To The Honorable Chair and the Members of the Disciplinary Review

Board, the District IIIB Ethics Committee Hearing Panel respectfully

reports:

                          I.   PROCEDURAL HISTORY

     The Respondent, Kevin S. Quinlan, Esquire, (hereinafter

“Respondent”), was admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey in

1993. At all times relevant, he was engaged in the practice of law at

207 West Main Street, Tuckerton, County of Ocean, State of New Jersey

08087. He resides in Tuckerton, New Jersey and is the mayor of

that Borough in Ocean County.

     During these proceedings, the Respondent represented himself. The

Complaint for misconduct was presented by Robert F. Rupinski, Esquire

of 13 Garden Street, Mount Holly, New Jersey 08060, a member of the

District IIIB Ethics Committee. The Complaint itself was drafted by

Nancy E. Whatley-Griffin, Esquire, a member of the District IIIB

Ethics Committee. The Respondent did not present any witnesses to his

defense. Likewise, the Presenter had no independent witnesses in

support of the District Ethics Committee’s cases.
     A formal Complaint, a copy of which is attached hereto, was filed

with the District IIIB Ethics Committee under Docket No. IIIB-01-036E

dated October 25, 2002. A Verified Answer, a copy of which is attached

hereto, was then filed by the Respondent, pro se on December 2, 2002.

Discovery was conducted and a hearing was held on April 3, 2003 before

a panel consisting of Jeffrey S. Apell, Esquire, Chair, J. Llewellyn

Mathews, Esquire, and Joan K. Geary, Public Member.

                        II.   SYNOPSIS OF ALLEGATIONS

     The formal Complaint alleges that the Respondent represented

Grievant, Louis A. Aquila (hereinafter “Grievant” or “Aquila”) at a

real estate closing on or about November 30, 2000, whereupon an

“escrow agreement” was reduced to writing by the Respondent. The

escrow agreement indicated tat the Seller of the real estate and the

Buyer/Grievant agreed that the sum of $1,000.00 from the proceeds of

the sale of the property would be held in escrow by the Respondent

until certain items were repaired regarding the house. It was alleged

that the Seller defaulted on the escrow agreement and did not complete

the items as required.

     The Complaint further stated tat Grievant attempted to contact

the Respondent to inform him of the Seller’s default regarding the

repairs. It was alleged that Grievant, on three (3) separate

occasions, tried to personally confer with the Respondent and

Respondent did not see the Grievant during those office visits, all in

violation of RPC 1.4.

     RPC 1.4(a) states that “a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably
informed about the status of the matter and promptly reply with

reasonable requests for information”.

     The Second Count of the Complaint alleges that the Respondent

failed to obtain the Grievant’s authorization to release the escrow

funds to the Seller and, in fact, the Respondent did return the escrow

moneys to the Seller. In a letter dated May 24, 2002, the Respondent

admitted that he returned the escrow moneys to the Seller without the

Grievant’s authorization, in violation of RPC 1:15. That Rule states:

          (b) upon receiving funds or other property in
          which a client or third party has an interest, a
          Lawyer should properly notify the client or third
          person. Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise
          permitted by law or by agreement by the client, a
          Lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or
          third person, any funds or other property that the
          client or third person is entitled to receive.

     The Third Count of the Complaint alleges a failure to cooperate

with the District Ethics Committee or office of Attorney Ethics, in

violation of the Rules of Court 1:20-3(g)(4), which in relevant parts

provides as follows:

          If Respondent fails to cooperate either by not
          replying in writing to a request for information
          or not producing the Attorney/client and/or
          business file or accounting records for inspection
          and review, the Office of Attorney Ethics may file
          and serve a Motion for Temporary Suspension with
          the Supreme Court, together with a Proof of
          Service, the failure of a Respondent to file a
          response in opposition to the Motion may result in
          the entry of an Order of Temporary Suspension
          without oral argument until further Order of the
          Court ...

                        III. FINDINGS OF FACT

     At the panel hearing on April 3, 2003, Robert F. Rupinski,
Esquire, the Presenter for the District IIIB Ethics Committee,

provided a 15 paragraph Stipulation of Facts dated April 3, 2003 and

signed by both Respondent and Presenter. This is attached hereto and

entered into as evidence at the hearing with no objection by the

Respondent.

     The Respondent was questioned at length by the Panel to ensure

that the entry of the Stipulation of Facts was not done under duress

and was entered into freely and voluntarily.

     The Panel was completely confident that the Respondent understood

an agreed to the Stipulation of Facts. In fact, the Respondent

commented that the wording of the various paragraphs in the

Stipulation of Facts were subject to negotiations between he and Mr.

Rupinski.

     The Panel makes a specific finding of fact that Respondent agreed

to the facts as stipulated. The Panel is further confident that the

Respondent understood that he had a right to an Attorney to represent

him at the hearing to aid in his defense as well as to review the

terms of the stipulated facts. Respondent freely and voluntarily

waived his rights as stated above.

     The Stipulation of Facts dated April 3, 2003 are added hereto and

accepted by this Panel for purposes of this report.

     To highlight some of the Stipulation of Facts, the Panel was

quite concerned about paragraphs 8 and 9, which state that the

Respondent did not notify Mr. Aquila (the Grievant), that the

Respondent was going to release the escrow moneys. Further, the
Stipulation of Facts state that the Respondent “failed to speak

directly with Mr. Aquila (the Grievant), prior to releasing the

$1,000.00 from the escrow account”. These, in and of itself

demonstrate a violation of RPC 1.4, Communication.

     As for the failure to safekeep property, a violation of RPC 1.15,

the Panel heard the testimony of the Respondent in conjunction with

the submitted Stipulation of Facts, as well as the argument and

comments of the Presenter, and specifically finds that there was

absolutely no self-dealing regarding the safekeeping of the property

in question. Further, there was no use of the money for the

Respondent’s own purposes. The monies were sent directly to the

Seller, merely in contravention of the escrow agreement.

     The Panel finds that failure to safekeep the property was not

intentional, nor deliberate, nor willful or knowing.

     The Panel finds that this was a careless mistake basically

dealing with sloppiness and his poor office management. This was

specifically supported by the Stipulation of Facts in paragraphs 13

and 15.

     Those paragraphs state that Respondent mistakenly believed that

he had authorization to release the escrow moneys. He based that

belief on the fact that the phone messages that were relayed to him by

his staff led him to believe that the Grievant’s daughter or the

Grievant himself had made the statements regarding the repair status

of the real estate. In retrospect, the Respondent now believes that

the information came from the Seller and not from the Grievant or the
Grievant’s daughter.

     The facts bear out that the Respondent failed to confirm the

information on the status of the repairs, either in writing or by

personal phone call with the Grievant, which led to the mistaken

release of the escrow money to the Seller and not to the Grievant.

     The Panel specifically finds that this is not a Wilson violation

or other misappropriation of funds.

     The Respondent testified that he has corrected his office

management issues to ensure that this type of situation does not

happen again.

     The Respondent further testified that he personally has made the

Grievant whole, or will be making him whole, regarding the repairs to

the Grievant’s property.

     It should also be pointed out that the Grievant had an

opportunity to review the Stipulation of Facts and as stated in a

letter dated March 30, 2003 to the Presenter, that the facts are

accurate. A copy of the letter from the Grievant to the Presenter is

attached hereto.

     The Presenter requested that the Third Count dealing with the

failure to communicate be dismissed. The application was granted

without objection. It should be pointed out that the Third Count of

the Verified Complaint, specifically, paragraphs 17 through 19, do not

under any circumstances address the issues listed in Rules of Court

1:20-3(g)(4). The facts listed in the Third Count do not at all

support an allegation of violation of that particular Rule.
    It is the finding of this Panel that that particular Rule deals

with a Respondent not cooperating with the District Ethics Committee

or the Office of Attorney Ethics investigation. There apparently was

some initial miscommunication between the original investigator Nancy

B. Whatley Griffin, Esquire and the Respondent. The Panel takes no

position as to what the alleged miscommunication involves. However, it

is confident that the allegations listed in the Third Count of the

Verified Complaint could not support a violation of that particular

Rule. The Presenter could not meet the burden of proof clearly and

convincingly. See Rule 1:20-6(c)(2)(B) and In re Pennica, 36 N.J. 401,

419 (1962). As such, the Third Count should be dismissed.

                           IV.    CONCLUSIONS

    Here, the Respondent and Presenter agreed to a Stipulation of

Facts, which were accepted by this Panel.

    The Panel can and will conclude that the Respondent did violate

RPC 1.4 Communication, and RPC 1.15, Safekeeping Property.

    The Respondent indicated to the Panel that there has already been

some public “admonition” in this matter, since apparently The Press of

Atlantic City wrote a rather large article regarding the ethics

charges against the Respondent in its Saturday, January 4, 2003

edition. This made the local newspaper since Respondent is the mayor

of Tuckerton, New Jersey. A copy of the article was submitted into

evidence and is attached hereto as part of this Report.

                         V.      DETERMINATIONS

    Regarding the First Count, the Panel was unanimous in its finding
that Respondent violated RPC 1.4 concerning Communication. This is

well supported by the testimony and admissions of the Respondent as

well as the Stipulation of Facts dated April 3, 2003.

     As for the Second Count involving safekeeping property, the Panel

was likewise unanimous in its finding that the Respondent violated RPC

1.15, by failing to safekeep property of a client or another third

party. This is again supported by the testimony and the Stipulation of

Facts presented to the Panel. As stated above, there is no

determination that the Respondent willfully, purposefully, or

knowingly failed to safekeep the escrow account. This was not a

situation were the Respondent “dipped” into the trust account for his

own benefit or the benefit of another. This was a mistake that clearly

involved poor office management and sloppiness. There was no self-

dealing here.

     The Panel respectfully recommends Admonition for the

communication violation (Count 1). It also recommends Admonition for

the failure to safekeep violation (Count 2). Finally, the Panel

submits that Count 3 should be dismissed, as it is not supported by

the facts or law.

                                   Respectfully submitted,

Dated:    April 18, 2003          /s/ Jeffrey S. Apell, Esq.
                                  Panel Chair

				
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