On Wednesday, July 12, 2023, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered further proceedings in the attorney discipline case of Julia Anna LaVan. The state’s high court remanded the matter to the Disciplinary Review Board to hold an evidentiary hearing before a special ethics master.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Julie Anna La Van” with case no. 087846.

The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) which states:

Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

In a decision issued on January 30, 2023, the New Jersey Supreme Court Disciplinary Review Board recommended a 3-month suspension for attorney Julia Anna LaVan over her conviction for obstructing governmental administration in New York. LaVan previously received a reprimand in 2019 and a censure in 2021 for other misconduct.

The recommended suspension stems from LaVan’s May 2022 guilty plea in Shelby Town Court, Orleans County, New York to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing governmental administration. The charges arose from a July 2021 incident where LaVan and her boyfriend confronted a man at his home and threatened him over a divorce settlement.

When police later tried to arrest the boyfriend, the court summary states:

“Respondent interfered by placing her hand on an officer’s arm. Subsequently, when the officers attempted to place [the boyfriend] into the patrol vehicle, respondent approached them from behind and officer Martin Stirk, Jr. ‘pulled her away again.’ Allegedly, respondent then intentionally struck officer Stirk in the face with her fist.”

Though the assault charge was dismissed as part of her plea, the court still considered it as an aggravating factor. The Disciplinary Review Board concluded:

“On balance, we determine that a three-month suspension is the appropriate quantum of discipline.”

In mitigation, LaVan apologized for her actions, but the court found “no mitigation to consider” given her disciplinary record. The court ordered LaVan to reimburse administrative costs related to the prosecution of her case.

In its order, the Supreme Court stated the evidentiary hearing is necessary “to establish a more detailed record on which to determine whether respondent’s misconduct directly touched upon her law license.”

After the hearing, the Disciplinary Review Board must review the special master’s findings and may revise its disciplinary recommendation to the court based on the developed record.

The court emphasized its order “takes no position on the merits” of the discipline case. The further proceedings will help establish facts related to any direct connection between LaVan’s misconduct and her law license.

The Disposition states:

“It is ORDERED that the matter is remanded to the Disciplinary Review Board to convene an evidentiary hearing before a Special Ethics Master who shall develop a detailed record and make findings in respect of whether respondent’s misconduct directly touched upon her law license. Upon receipt of the Special Ethics Master’s report, the Disciplinary Review Board shall review the findings of the Special Ethics Master and may, if the Board in its discretion determines it appropriate and necessary based on the developed record, file with the Court a revised decision as to final discipline.”

Ms. LaVan practices in Moorestown, New Jersey. She is licensed in New Jersey. Her info can be found on lawyersjustia.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.