ASSEMBLY, No. 788

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  JON M. BRAMNICK

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  RUBEN J. RAMOS, JR.

District 33 (Hudson)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Milam, O'Scanlon and Giblin

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Bars direct solicitation letters from attorneys to accident victims and other persons.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning certain solicitations by attorneys, amending P.L.1999, c.325 and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares that, increasingly, certain attorneys are sending intrusive and unwarranted solicitation letters to victims of motor vehicle accidents, drivers who receive traffic tickets, and persons charged with offenses.  The attorneys obtain these people’s names, addresses and other personal information through public information sources such as police reports and court records, and send the letters in an attempt to solicit business.  The Legislature finds that this practice constitutes an abuse of our system of open public records, constitutes an invasion of these individuals’ privacy, and increases the public’s mistrust and suspicion of the legal profession.

 

     2.  (New section)  a.  No attorney shall send any written communication soliciting professional employment on the attorney’s own behalf to any person whose name, address or other personal information was obtained from a public record such as a police report, accident report or court record. This subsection shall not apply to any solicitation through advertising which is not directed to a specific person.

     b.  Violation of this section is a crime of the third degree.

 

     3.  Section 2 of P.L. 1999, c.325 (C.2C:40A-5) is amended to read as follows:

     2.  In addition to any other sanction that may be imposed by the Supreme Court, an attorney who violates the Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by the Supreme Court of New Jersey by contacting an accident or disaster victim or an accident or disaster victim's relative[, using means other than written communication,] to solicit professional employment on the attorney's own behalf, and who acts with intent to accept money or something of value for his services, shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.325, s.2)

 

     4.  This act shall take effect immediately.


STATEMENT

 

     Increasingly, certain attorneys are sending intrusive and unwarranted solicitation letters to victims of motor vehicle accidents, drivers who receive traffic tickets, and persons charged with offenses.  The attorneys obtain these people’s names, addresses and other personal information through public information sources such as police reports and court records, and send the letters in an attempt to solicit business.  The Legislature finds that this practice constitutes an abuse of our system of open public records, constitutes an invasion of these individuals’ privacy, and increases the public’s mistrust and suspicion of the legal profession.

     This bill would prohibit attorneys from sending any written communication soliciting professional employment on the attorneys’ own behalf to any person whose name, address or other personal information was obtained from a public record such as a police report, accident report or court record. The bill would not apply to any solicitation through advertising which is not directed to a specific person.

     Violation of the provisions of the bill would be a crime of the third degree (punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.)

     The bill would also amend N.J.S.A.2C:40A-5, which currently provides that an attorney who violates the Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court by contacting an accident or disaster victim or a relative of such person, using means other than written communication, to solicit professional employment on the attorney's own behalf, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.  The bill would provide that using written communication to solicit professional employment under these circumstances also constitutes a crime of the third degree.