On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued a reprimand against attorney David Wayne Crook for violating several rules of professional conduct. The order came after the Disciplinary Review Board filed a decision with the court, recommending a reprimand and other sanctions, after Crook failed to comply with recordkeeping requirements and failed to cooperate with disciplinary authorities.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of David Wayne Crook,” with case no. 088211.
The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(d) and 8.1(b) which states:
Failing to comply with the recordkeeping requirements of Rule1:21-6.
Failing to cooperate with disciplinary authorities.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The case stemmed from Crook’s repeated failures to comply with professional obligations. These violations led to his ineligibility to practice law on three separate occasions, a rare and serious consequence. Crook’s recordkeeping deficiencies were discovered during a random audit conducted by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) for the period of September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2019. The audit revealed several outstanding checks and inactive balances totaling approximately $79,700
Despite requests for financial records, Crook failed to cooperate with the investigation, prompting the OAE to escalate the matter. The Board’s determination was bolstered by Crook’s lack of response to demands for information from the OAE.
The Decision states:
“On January 25, 2021, given the respondent’s failure to cooperate, the OAE sent the respondent another letter demanding the required documents and setting a deadline of February 4, 2021, for their submission.”
The Disciplinary Review Board voted in favor of a reprimand, considering Crook’s almost forty-year unblemished career at the bar and absence of prior disciplinary history. While a more severe censure was considered, the Board concluded that a reprimand would be the appropriate level of discipline.
In its order, the Supreme Court reprimanded Crook and instructed him to complete a recordkeeping course approved by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE ) within 60 days. Additionally, he must bring his records into compliance within 60 days and provide quarterly reconciliations of his attorney accounts to the OAE for a period of two years.
The order also states that the entire record of the matter will be made a permanent part of Crook’s file as an attorney at law of the state. Additionally, he must reimburse the Disciplinary Oversight Committee for appropriate administrative costs and actual expenses incurred in the prosecution of the matter, as provided in Rule 1:20-17.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Crook is an estate planning attorney in Rutherford, New Jersey. He attended the Seton Hall University. He acquired his law license in New Jersey in 1983.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.