SJC's Committee on Professional Responsibility for Clerks Announces Disciplinary Action Imposed on Clerk-Magistrate
The Supreme Judicial Court's Committee on Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts (the "Committee") today announced the terms of a disciplinary action imposed on Donald P. Whitney, Clerk-Magistrate of the Hampden Juvenile Court.
Following the Committee's receipt of allegations against Mr. Whitney, citing his inappropriate manner and conduct in the course of his duties as Clerk, the Committee initiated an investigation. The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Jeffrey L. McCormick of the Springfield law firm Robinson Donovan PC, as Special Counsel to assist the Committee. Mr. McCormick's investigation included numerous witness interviews as well as a review of relevant documents and resulted in a confidential report to the Committee.
The Committee concluded that for a period of years preceding 2011, Mr. Whitney violated provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts (the "Code"). The Committee found that Mr. Whitney 1) conducted his personal affairs in a manner that violated Canon 4(B) of the Code; 2) responded to requests of the Springfield Police Department in a manner that violated Canons 3 (A) (4), 3 (A) (5), and 3 (B) of the Code; 3) repeatedly conducted himself toward staff under his direct supervision in a manner that was prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Canons 3 (A) (2), 3 (A) (3), and 3 (B) of the Code; and 4) failed at that time to address certain personal issues that resulted in conduct that detracted from the dignity of the office of the Clerk-Magistrate, and was prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Canons 3, 3 (A) (2), and 3 (A) (5) of the Code.
Based on these findings, Mr. Whitney has agreed to an informal adjustment, the terms of which provide that he will cease and desist from such behavior in the future, undertake managerial training under the supervision of the Administrative Office of the Juvenile Court, and pay costs in the amount of $5,000. Mr. Whitney has been on administrative leave from his duties since May 2011.
The Committee on Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts, established by SJC Rule 3:13 in 1990, has authority to investigate complaints against both elected and appointed clerks relative to alleged violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts.