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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

SJC No. BD-2001-0018

IN RE: ANDREW B. ESTRINE

S.J.C. Judgment of Reinstatement entered by Justice Spina on February 28, 2006. 1

REPORT OF THE HEARING PANEL

On April 10, 2001, the Petitioner, Andrew B. Estrine, was suspended from the practice of law for thirty months, effective May 10, 2001. The sanction was imposed as a result of his conduct in representing a client in two personal injury cases. Bar Counsel does not oppose Petitioner's reinstatement. We briefly summarize the facts leading to his suspension.

The Petitioner represented one Mr. Belfiore in two separate personal injury actions, one against a race track and the second against Stop & Shop. Both involved injuries to the client's hand. Obviously, the Petitioner was aware that Mr. Belfiore had suffered an injury to his hand as a result of a fall alleged to have occurred in 1990, because he was representing him in a suit to recover damages for those injuries. Nonetheless, with respect to a lawsuit arising out of a second fall at a Stop & Shop Supermarket in 1992, in which the client's same hand was again alleged to have been injured, the Petitioner permitted the client to (1) sign false and misleading interrogatories; (2) testify falsely at a deposition; and (3) testify falsely at trial that at the time of the 1992 fall, his hand was, in essence, fine. Additionally, the Petitioner filed an Affidavit with the Court in which he falsely asserted that he was unaware of his client's "inconsistencies" until the testimony at the trial on the 1992 fall, and that the Petitioner had informed Stop & Shop of the existence of the first case. Finally, the SJC agreed with the Board's finding that the Petitioner's failure to produce medical records of the second fall to the defendant in the first case, as well as the conduct previously set forth, violated the then governing Code of Professional Conduct, warranting the thirty month suspension.

On July 27, 2005, the Petitioner filed a Petition for Reinstatement and Affidavit, pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 18(4). A hearing before a panel comprised of Constance L. Rudnick, Chair, Alan Rose, Esq. and Linda McKenzie, was held on October 17, 2005.' The Petitioner was represented by Meaghan Barrett, Esq. The Office of Bar Counsel was represented by Bar Counsel, Daniel Crane, Esq. The panel heard from one witness, Mr. Estrine, and accepted eight exhibits into evidence.

The burden on a Petitioner applying for reinstatement is well-settled He must demonstrate that he has the moral qualifications required for admission to practice law; that he has the competency and the learning in the law required for admission; and that the resumption of practice by him will not be detrimental to the public or to the administration of justice. S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 18(5), Matter of Cappiello, 416 Mass. 240(1993).

Learning in the Law

During the time he has been suspended from the practice, the Petitioner has kept reasonably current in the law. He teaches a business law course at DeVry University in Florida where he has resided for several years. The course addresses contracts, business organizations, torts and other related areas of law. This endeavor requires him to keep abreast of changes in these areas. He read Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on-line. He read the Globe and other periodicals. He has kept current concerning changes in Massachusetts rules, such as the new IOLTA recordkeeping rule on-line. He studied both for the Professional Responsibility Exam (which he passed) and for the Multi-State Bar Exam in Florida, which he has been unable to take because of his suspension in Massachusetts.

Moral Qualifications

The Petitioner stated he accepts responsibility for the conduct which gave rise to the disciplinary sanction. He recognizes that he handled his client's perjury unethically and improperly. He testified that nothing like this situation had ever happened to him before, and that he was not prepared to properly address the consequences of a client's lying under oath. He admitted that his course of conduct represented an extreme lack of judgment, and stated it would never occur again. We credit this testimony. He testified as to the procedure he is now aware must be followed in the event of a client's false testimony. The Petitioner assumed total responsibility for payment of $15,000 in costs assessed against him and his client jointly as a result of the conduct that gave rise to the suspension.2

Additionally, the Petitioner has been active in his community during the period of his suspension. He relocated to Florida during the course of the BBO proceedings and now lives in Boca Raton. While employed at Morgan Stanley, a job he was forced to leave because the disciplinary matter precluded him from obtaining certain securities' licenses, he helped build a park, worked on a Habitat for Humanity project, and obtained Christmas presents for the needy. He coached his children's organized sports activities. He worked at the food pantry run by his synagogue.

Effect of Reinstatement on the Public

In light of the foregoing, we do not believe that the Petitioner's reinstatement will have an adverse effect on the public or on the administration of justice. The Petitioner has clearly learned his lesson, and it is highly unlikely that his aberrational conduct will repeat itself. We therefore recommend that the Petition for Reinstatement be allowed.

FOOTNOTES

1 The Petitioner had submitted a prior Petition in or about March, 2004. A hearing was held, in which the Petitioner represented himself. Following the hearing, the Petitioner withdrew the Petition. He testified that he withdrew it because he was unprepared for the seriousness and the adversarial nature of the proceedings. The Panel has not considered any of the evidence adduced in the prior proceeding, nor the fact that a prior hearing was held, in reaching its conclusion on this Petition.

2 By this time the client had "disappeared," or was at least unable to be reached.



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