COMMITTEE ON CHARACTER
(or Who Will Guard the Guardians?)
In 1992 I
bono Mr. Timothy Maguire, who had passed the New Jersey Bar exam
initially denied admission to the Bar by a local panel of the Committee
Character, on the ground that he had supposedly shown an inclination to
"either the obligation of truthfulness or the obligation of
confidentiality." That determination was reversed at the State
level, and Mr. Maguire was admitted to the Bar, but the record showed
three lawyers who made that accusation were so determined to persecute
political incorrectness that they themselves engaged in deception,
power, and highly unprofessional misconduct. Although I fully
that misconduct to the State Chair of the Committe on Character and two
colleagues, they took no action, other than to reverse my client's
from the Bar.
On this page, I will name names and produce the evidence. You can decide for yourselves whether these three lawyers, Mary J. Maudsley, Richard Hluchan, and Richard Fauntleroy, were qualified to judge anyone's character. You can also judge whether Mary Maudsley, in particular, was fit to serve as Chair of the Disciplinary Review Board of the State of New Jersey, as she did from 2003 to 2005.
In 1991, when he was a third year student at Georgetown Law Center, Mr.
published an article in a student newspaper pointing out significant
disparities in the academic qualifications of white and black students
law school. He was charged with having improperly released
gleaned from his employment in the Law Center Admissions Office; he
that the information he released was not confidential, since no names
used. The matter was resolved in a written "Disposition",
agreed to by the Law Center and Mr. Maguire, in which he received a
reprimand that was not included in his official transcript.
He reported the incident when he applied for admission to the Bar. Ms. Maudsley, on behalf of the Committe on Character, requested that Mr. Maguire appear before her and Messrs. Hluchan and Fauntleroy for a hearing on April 16, 1992. He did so, accompanied by a pro bono lawyer from Washington who had represented him in his dealings with Georgetown. The Part Panel, which I will refer to as "Maudsley & Co.", refused to let that lawyer represent him, and insisted that he either hire a New Jersey lawyer (he was unemployed at the time) or represent himself. He chose the latter.
Six months after the hearing, Maudsley & Co. issued a written opinion finding Mr. Maguire unfit to practice law in New Jersey. The opinion claimed that he had "sign[ed] a document that he knew to be untrue" and indicated he might advise clients to do likewise, and that he believed "that attorney-client confidentiality is subject to individual interpretation."
Maudsley & Co. supported those allegations by quoting excerpts from Mr. Maguire's testimony, condensing it on several occasions by using ellipses. Three of those ellipses so distorted Mr. Maguire's testimony as to render innocuous comments into damning admissions.
At the hearing, Mr. Fauntleroy asked Mr. Maguire whether he might advise his clients to sign untrue statements, merely to avoid unpleasant consequences. Maudsley & Co. quoted his response exactly as follows:
a general rule, no, but I think there are exceptions to
that....There are exceptions where the failure to sign an
untrue document presents consequences so severe that a
lawyer in good conscience would have to tell a client to
sign it,...” Transcript: pp. 56:20 - 57:5
certainly makes it appear Mr. Maguire might be unduly flexible with the
but what was in those ellipses? The first missing passage was as
you have a gun pointed to your head, that would be one thing,
but let's think about the real world and what is an exception
and what is not. That becomes more difficult.
Here is the second:
I do not think it would be a lawyer's obligation to
have a client get shot in the head by him failing to
sign an untrue statement.
Check the evidence by clicking here to see that actual pages from Mr. Maguire's complete testimony. Click here and go to page 7 of the document (a scanned replica of the original) to see how Maudsley & Co. distorted the evidence.
The third misuse of ellipsis related to the accusation that Mr. Maguire might disregard attorney client confidentiality. Here is how Maudsley and Co. quoted testimony they characterized as Mr. Maguire "sum[ming] up his position:
I was an attorney there would be situations when I would
violate a client’s confidence and if that hurts my standing
with this bar that is fine... I think there are values more
important than rules. Transcript pp. 77-78
again, our hero
certainly sounds as if he could be careless with client
this is what he said where Maudsley & Co. put those three little
have an acquaintance now who is an attorney and I am
his client. He is going through some mental problems and
I am fearful about his mental health and life. I would break
his confidence in a minute to save him. If you are telling
me the rules are more important it is not worth it for me
to be a member of the bar of this state.
Click here to see the genuine transcript of what Tim
said. Click here and go again to page 7
how Maudsley & Co. misrepresented it.
No one to whom I have shown this record has disagreed that the omitted statements were highly material to a fair sense of Tim Maguire's testimony. Any lawyer who fraudulently misused ellipses three times in one brief before a judge in this state might well end up before Ms. Maudsley's Disciplinary Review Board. The deliberate distortion of Tim's statements can only have been calculated to mislead the reader, whether intentionally or as the result of misplaced zeal and poor judgment I cannot say. As mentioned above, the full Committee on Character essentially "covered up" this misconduct by the local panel. I planned to write a letter to the Chief Justice calling the Court's attention to the conduct of the local panel, but I was then at McCarter & English, and the "powers that be" in the firm at the time leaned heavily on me not to do so. Now that I have my own firm, I have put the record of this case online (with Mr. Maguire's consent), so that the public can judge for itself.
As mentioned above, effective April 1, 2003, the Chief Justice appointed Mary Maudsley as Chair of the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board, the body with primary responsibility for lawyer discipline in this state. Shortly before the appointment became effective, on March 25, 2003, I wrote Ms. Maudsley a private letter asking for her comments on the issues raised on this page. She ignored my letter, and so I have felt free to make it public. A year later, I learned that Ms. Maudsley had been appointed to a second term as chair of the New Jersey DRB. On March 10, 2004, I wrote her again, politely asking that she take responsibility for what happened in this case. Once again, she ignored me. More important, however, is the fact that, although she has presumably read my letters and this page, she has never disputed any part of the allegations they contain.
A year later, I had occasion to write Mr. Fauntleroy, who had become Chair of the entire New Jersey Committee on Character, to inform him of the allegations against him on this website and to request that he recuse himself from a pending matter. He too never responded to my letter or denied what I had written about him.
In another context, I recently came across an article by Christoper Hitchens, in which he made the following comment:
By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (…), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised.
At least some members of the New Jersey Committee on Character apparently disagree.
In addition to Ms. Maudsley holding the chair of the Disciplinary Review Board, the two other members of the panel that wrote the misleading opinion also achieved positions of distinction in the New Jersey bar. As stated above, Richard Fauntleroy later served on the statewide Committee on Character and was elevated to State Chair, a position he held until some time in 2005. Richard Hluchan serves on the editorial board of the New Jersey Law Journal. This web page has been public for at least five years. No one has ever challenged a single word of it.