On Friday, December 8, 2023, the  Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order dismissing formal ethics charges that had been filed against Attorney Brian Francis Fowler.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Brian Fowler,” with case no. 088548.

Fowler faced charges of violating Rules of Professional Conduct related to his duties as executor of his late aunt’s estate between 2013 and 2020. Specifically, the Disciplinary Review Board had found that Fowler failed to cooperate with their investigation into an ethics grievance filed by one of the beneficiaries of the estate.

The events stemmed back on March 16, 2012, when Fowler’s aunt, Anna Reid, passed away. According to court documents, Fowler was named as alternate executor in Reid’s will if her daughter Geraldine was unable to serve. After Geraldine’s death, Fowler took on the role of executor.

In that capacity between 2013 and 2016, Fowler was tasked with dividing up Reid’s assets among her beneficiaries. This included pursuing potential funds held in a joint bank account by Reid and another daughter, Catherine. Documents show Fowler sent letters demanding the return of these joint account funds but later had reservations about pursuing the matter due to family dynamics. Over the next few years, Fowler paid debts and specific bequests from the estate funds but faced delays in fully resolving issues related to the joint account. One beneficiary, Barbara Reid, grew frustrated with the delays and lack of communication from Fowler.

On July 27, 2019, Barbara Reid filed an ethics grievance against Fowler with the Disciplinary Review Board. The board then investigated the matter but claimed Fowler failed to fully cooperate with their requests for documents and information between late 2019 and mid-2020.

Specifically, the board alleged Fowler did not promptly submit his written reply to the grievance or provide his full file related to serving as estate executor within the deadlines they set. Fowler acknowledged delays but said personal hardships hindered his ability to properly respond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a hearing in December 2021, the board determined Fowler violated a conduct rule requiring attorney cooperation during disciplinary investigations. They recommended he receive a reprimand. However, in its December 8, 2023, order, the Supreme Court dismissed the entire ethics matter against Fowler.

The Disposition states:

“It is ORDERED that the formal ethics complaint against Brian Francis Fowler in District Docket No. IIA-2019-0018E is hereby dismissed.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Fowler is a litigation attorney in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He attended the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He acquired his law license in New Jersey in 1987.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.