On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a public reprimand to Florida attorney Stephen Robert Jones for violating ethics rules related to his practice during a previous suspension.
The case is titled ‘In The Matter of Stephen Robert Jones,’ with case no. DRB 23-052.
The findings of the Disciplinary Review Board, reveal that the cited violations pertain to Rules 1.15(d),1:21-6, 8.4(d), in two respects: one, violating R. 1:20-20(a) and (b)(2) and two, violating R. 1:20-20(b)(5) of the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct.
The New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
Attorney Jones, who was admitted to practice law in New Jersey in 2006, received a one-year suspension from the practice of law in March 2021. This suspension was retroactive to March 2020 and resulted from Jones pleading nolo contendere to felony cocaine possession charges in Florida as well as ethical violations related to his neglect of client matters.
While serving his suspension, Jones engaged in two instances of misconduct. From September 2020 to March 2021, he was employed full-time by the Florida law firm Musca Law. The Disciplinary Review Board found that this violated New Jersey Court Rule 1:20-20(b)(2), which prohibits a suspended attorney from occupying, sharing, or using office space where an attorney practices law.
Attorney Jones also made four cash withdrawals totaling $500 from his New Jersey attorney trust account between August 2020 and January 2021. The Board determined this violated Court Rule 1:20-20(b)(5), which requires suspended attorneys to cease using any bank accounts identified as law office or attorney accounts. Making ATM withdrawals from a trust account is specifically prohibited by Rule 1:21-6(c)(2).
In March 2023, Attorney Jones entered into a disciplinary stipulation with the Office of Attorney Ethics admitting to the rule violations. The Board reviewed the stipulation in August 2023 and found that Jones’ actions violated New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(d), regarding recordkeeping for attorney accounts, and 8.4(d), which prohibits conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Taking into account mitigating factors such as Jones’ admission of wrongdoing and cooperation with authorities, as well as aggravating factors like his prior suspension, the Board recommended a public reprimand as the appropriate level of discipline. Subsequently, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order officially reprimanding Jones as suggested by the Board. Attorney Jones will also have to reimburse the Disciplinary Review Board for costs associated with the matter. The reprimand will become a permanent part of Jones’ record in the state.
The disposition reads:
“It is ORDERED that Stephen Robert Jonesis hereby reprimanded, and it is further
ORDERED that the entire record of this matter be made a permanent part of respondent’s file as an attorney at law of this State.”
According to Avvo, Attorney Stephen Robert Jones is a criminal defense attorney based in Rotonda West, Florida. He attended the Widener University School of Law, graduating in 2005. He acquired his license in New Jersey in 2006.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.