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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-047


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cowin on August 14, 2001. 1


On November 6, 2000, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law for one year. See Matter of Davidson, S.J.C. No. BD-2000-003 (July 25, 2000 ). On August 14, 2001, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered the respondent suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years, effective November 6, 2001. The three-year suspension was based on the respondent’s conduct in three separate matters that the respondent stipulated could be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.

In the first matter, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3 and 1.4, 1.5(a) and 8.4( c) and (h). The respondent was retained to represent the landlords of a single-family dwelling in negotiations for a lease renewal with their tenants. In March 1998, counsel for the tenants informed the respondent that they would not renew their lease and would vacate at the end of April 1998. The tenants failed to vacate and paid no rent after April 1998.

The respondent agreed to file a summary process complaint on behalf of his clients to evict the tenants. Although the respondent never filed a summary process complaint, he falsely represented to his clients that he had filed a complaint and that a hearing was scheduled on their case on June 18, 1998. In July, the respondent falsely represented that after a hearing, the court had granted an eviction order requiring the tenants to vacate by July 31, 1998. The respondent had received notice from opposing counsel that his clients would vacate on July 31, 1998, and they did so.

In August, the respondent agreed to file suit against the tenants for 3 months unpaid rent totaling $4,800, expenses and damages to the premises. The respondent never filed suit, but he falsely represented to the clients that he had filed suit on their behalf in the Worcester Housing Court and that a hearing was scheduled in October 1998. The clients went to the court clerk’s office on the purported date of the hearing and learned that there was no hearing scheduled and no docket number for their case. The respondent falsely stated that there was an error and that their case had been assigned to Judge Martin, who was sitting in Uxbridge that day. The respondent then traveled to the Uxbridge Court with his clients and prepared them to testify at a purported hearing that afternoon. When the respondent arrived at the court, he asked his clients to wait while he met with the judge. The respondent later falsely reported to his clients that the tenants had defaulted and that the judge had awarded them $6,000 in back rent and damages. The respondent falsely represented that the tenants had 30 days to pay the judgment and that he would go to court to get an execution if they failed to pay.

In November 1998, the respondent billed his clients for services he had falsely claimed to have performed and for services he provided solely to conceal his neglect. The clients promptly paid the respondent’s bill.

Between November 1998 and August 1999, the clients repeatedly telephoned the respondent for information on the payment of the judgment. The respondent falsely represented that the tenants had agreed to compromise and then had withdrawn their offer. The respondent also falsely represented that the tenants had obtained several continuances for a hearing on damages and that the case would be heard by the court in August 1999. In August 1999, the respondent told the clients that their hearing had been canceled. In August 1999, the clients learned from the clerk of court that there was no record of their case. In September 1999, the respondent admitted to the clients that he had never filed suit.

In the second matter, the client retained the respondent to represent her in applying for a special permit and for approval of a residential development from the Grafton Planning Board. In May 1993, the respondent submitted to the Grafton Town Planning Board an application for a special permit and a preliminary subdivision plan. After a hearing in November 1993, the Grafton Town Planning Board approved the special permit with certain conditions requiring the client to upgrade the access road to the development and to connect the site to water.

Shortly after the special permit issued, the client met with the respondent to discuss her concerns about the conditions attached to the special permit. The respondent advised the client to file a complaint against the Grafton Town Planning Board within the 20-day appeal period. In November 1993, the respondent filed a complaint on behalf of the client against the Grafton Town Planning Board in Worcester Superior Court. In March 1995, while the case was pending, the client received a letter from the town planner requesting more information on the development. The client provided to the respondent letters from the engineers responding to these questions, but the respondent never turned them over to the town or its counsel despite directions to do so by the client.

The respondent attended a pre-trial conference on June 13, 1995. A trial date was scheduled for September 12, 1995, but the trial was postponed by the Court. No further trial was scheduled, and the respondent took no further substantive action on behalf of the client.

Between September 1995 and August 9, 1996, the respondent falsely represented to the client that he had received a decision in her favor from Judge Butler, that he had petitioned the court for a final hearing on the judgment, that he had attended a hearing before Judge Botsford on August 9, 1996, and that she had taken the matter “under advisement”. On November 12, 1997 and February 12, 1998, the respondent faxed to the client copies of two letters, he falsely claimed to have sent to Judge Botsford on those respective dates requesting a decision and entry of final judgment.

In March 1998, the respondent met with the client and misrepresented to her that her case had been transferred to Judge Sosman. On April 17, 1998, the respondent falsely represented to the client that he had gone to the clerk’s office and received a signed decision from Judge Sosman. The respondent provided to the client a fabricated a document purporting to be a “Memorandum and Order” signed by Judge Sosman on April 14, 1998. The client then hired engineers at considerable expense to develop a plan based on Judge Sosman’s order.

In November 1998, the respondent was served with a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of prosecution. The respondent requested and received a continuance to file a opposition, but he never did so. In April 1999, the Worcester Superior Court dismissed the client’s case for lack of prosecution and ordered the defendants to recover costs. The respondent was served with the dismissal and order, but he failed to inform the client. In January 2000, the client went to the Worcester Superior Court for a certified copy of Judge Sosman’s decision to file with her revised plan on the special permit. At that time, she learned that there had been no decision in her favor and that her case had been dismissed for lack of prosecution.

For conduct prior to January 1, 1998, the respondent violated Canon One, Disciplinary Rules 1-102(A) (4), (5) and (6), Canon Six, Disciplinary Rules 6-101(A)(3) and 6-102(A), and Canon Seven, Disciplinary Rules 7-101(A) (1), (2) and (3). The respondent’s conduct after January 1, 1998, violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), and 1.3, 1.4 and 8.4(c), (d) and (h).

In the third matter, the respondent was retained by the ex-wife in a post-divorce matter in April 1998, to obtain from her ex-husband a promissory note and mortgage on the marital home as required by a stipulation of the parties and an order of divorce entered on December 10, 1996. The respondent was also hired to pursue her appeal from part of a contempt order dated March 2, 1998, which required her ex-husband to provide a promissory note in the amount of $100,0000 payable over ten years at 8% interest. On August 19, 1998, the respondent filed a motion to enlarge time to file an appeal from the Order of Contempt entered on March 2, 1998. The client’s appeal was dismissed on September 9, 1999. The respondent failed to take any further action in any matter involving the client until May 23, 2000.

Between April 8, 1998 and August 2, 2000, the respondent falsely represented to the client that he had filed a complaint for contempt and that numerous hearings on her complaint for contempt against her ex-husband had been scheduled and canceled by the judges of the Worcester Probate Court. In fact, there were no hearings on contempt scheduled in this period. On or about April 13, 1999, the respondent falsely represented to the client that he had secured a mortgage lien against the former marital home that was now the ex-husband’s property to secure the $100,000 that her ex-husband owed her per their agreement and the final order entered in the divorce. The respondent agreed to send the client a copy of the lien, but never did so. In fact, the respondent had not secured a lien on the property.

Between March 1999 and March 2000, the respondent falsely represented to his client that he had filed complaints for contempt and a proposed contempt judgment against her ex-husband, that these complaints for contempt had been allowed by the court, and that the court had entered a judgment of contempt. In fact, no court orders or judgments were entered by the Worcester Probate Court.

On or about July 25, 2000, the respondent provided to the client copies of two fabricated orders and a fabricated judgment that he falsely represented had been allowed by the court. The respondent fabricated an “Order on Contempt” dated April 13, 1999, purportedly signed by Justice Arline S. Rotman, a “Judgment on Various Contempt Issues” dated November 30, 1999, and bearing the purported signature of Justice Joseph L. Hart, Jr. and an “Order on Contempt” dated March 24, 2000, also purportedly signed by Justice Joseph L. Hart, Jr. The respondent forged or caused to be forged or copied the signatures of the judges to these documents. The respondent’s conduct in this third matter violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, and 8.4 (c), (d) and (h).

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.

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