Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin
To Present the Clients' Security Board's William J. LeDoux Award
To Two Attorneys
Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin will present the
Clients' Security Board's 8th William J. LeDoux Award
to Haverhill attorney Russell Channen and Amherst attorney
S. Peter Ziomek, Jr., who each demonstrated extraordinary
efforts in helping their clients recover significant
financial losses. The event will be held in the Seven
Justice Courtroom in the John Adams Courthouse on Thursday,
May 20, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
Channen has been with the Haverhill law firm of Phillips,
Gerstein & Channen since 1989 and was named a partner
in 1995. He is a graduate of UMass-Amherst and New England
Law | Boston. His client was the executor of his uncle's
estate. The uncle died in an automobile accident in 2006.
The client retained a now-deceased lawyer to pursue the
estate's interests in bringing a wrongful death claim.
The lawyer settled the claim and received over $100,000,
and misappropriated the entire amount, instead of turning
it over to the estate. Mr. Channen first located and
then pursued real estate assets of the deceased lawyer
in two states. When title searches revealed valid encumbrances
far in excess of the values of the respective properties,
Mr. Channen filed claims with the lawyer's estate only
to learn that the estate had no assets beyond the two
encumbered properties. His last attempt was to file a
claim on behalf of his client against the deceased lawyer's
personal catastrophe liability policy. That recovery
was barred by the policy's specific exclusion for losses
related to providing or failing to provide professional
services. The Board awarded his client $90,000.
Peter Ziomek, Jr. is a partner in the Amherst family
law firm of Ziomek & Ziomek. He is a graduate of
UMass-Amherst and Western New England College School
of Law. Mr. Ziomek represented the young survivors of
a family tragedy. A now-disbarred attorney was appointed
guardian of their property that consisted of over $80,000
in cash and seven multi-unit rental properties. During
a period of four years, the disbarred lawyer kept poor
or no records of the guardianship estate making it impossible
to determine the exact amount of the misappropriations
from it. Nevertheless, on behalf of his clients, Mr.
Ziomek sued the issuer of the guardian's surety bond
and recovered the coverage limit of $90,000. He then
reconstructed other records to show that the disbarred
lawyer misappropriated not less than an additional $42,000
that the Board awarded to his clients.
in 1997 in memory of the late William J. LeDoux, a member
of the Clients' Security Board from 1987 to 1997, the
award honors an attorney who, serving pro bono, performs
outstanding legal work in representing a claimant before
the Board. Mr. LeDoux, who was Chair of the Board for
seven years, is known for his many achievements in advancing
the Board's goal of serving the public.