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Johanna Barba Jones. (Photo: New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts).

Rabner names replacement for fired attorney ethics chief

Johanna Barba Jones will succeed Charles Centinaro, who was tossed last week after

By New Jersey Globe Staff, October 05 2022 9:35 am

A widely respected career government lawyer will run the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics after a scandal caused the judiciary to toss the man who held the post for nearly thirteen years.

Johanna Barba Jones, who has worked for the judiciary for the last seven years, will serve as director of the office that investigates complaints and allegations of misconduct against attorneys.

She replaced Charles Centinaro, who was fired last week after failing to report an “intimate relationship” with one of his employees, in violation of court rules.

Centinaro had been director of the ethics office since 2009.  He had been criticized over the last two years for delays over attorney discipline investigations during the COVID pandemic; working from home had not been an optimal situation.

A deputy attorney general from 2000 to 2010, Jones served as an assistant counsel to Gov. Chris Christie from 2010 to 2012 and as inspector general of the New Jersey Department of Transportation from 2012 to 2017.  She joined the state courts in 2017 as an assistant ethics counsel and fee arbitration coordinator.   Since 2021, Jones had been the chief counsel of the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Review Board.

“Given her breadth of experience and talent, I am confident that Ms. Jones will continue the office’s strong history of protecting the public and safeguarding the integrity of the legal profession,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.

Jones will also manage the state’s seventeen fee arbitration panels that resolve fee disputes between clients and their attorneys and run the Trust Account Overdraft Program and the office that conducts random audits of attorney accounts.

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