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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Crooked Newark Lawyer Faces Jail For False Confession Conspiracy
Your lawyer may be your own worst enemy.
Is your lawyer honest? Is your lawyer ready to sell you out for a few bucks?
New Jersey criminal defendants will be asking these questions after the guilty plea in federal court by a prominent Newark criminal defense attorney, who took a bribe to convince his own client to admit to something he didn't do (gun possession, a felony).
Clifford Minor, a former Newark mayoral candidate and Essex County Prosecutor, admitted to taking $3,500 to have his own client take $10,000 to falsely confess to the gun possession felony. (See Crime, Politics and Policy's earlier coverage of the Clifford Minor case here.)
Just as shocking is the puny amount of money needed to get Minor to sell out his own client. This is the type of case, involving a "high profile" lawyer whom clients would expect to uphold the better values of the legal profession, that can make many clients explicitly question whether their lawyer is putting his interests ahead of their own interests -- and in the case of people being prosecuted and under indictment, their very freedom. After the Minor case, many clients will be entitled to ask:
At the very least, a lawyer owes his client a duty of loyalty, a duty of fidelity and a duty of candor. The overt conflict of interest demonstrated and exploited by Minor calls for a significant sentence for its deterrence value.
Under New Jersey attorney discipline rules, this felony conviction should lead to a prompt disbarment of Minor and likely will preclude him from ever being reinstated to practice in New Jersey.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.