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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-050

IN RE: SCOTT T. BUXTON

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Spina on December 11, 2008.1

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

The Board of Bar Overseers (board) filed an Information with the Court recommending disbarment of Attorney Scott T. Buxton based on his convictions of various crimes, as follows:

I.

(a) Armed burglary-assault on occupant (December 1, 2000)

(b) Assault by means of a dangerous weapon (baseball bat) (December 1, 2000);

(c) Malicious damage to a motor vehicle (December 1, 2000).

The defendant pleaded guilty on June 4, 2001, in Hampden County Superior Court. He was sentenced to nine months in the Hampden County House of Correction on I (b); six months in the House of Correction on I (c), concurrent with the sentence on I (b); and six years probation on I (a), from and after the sentence on I (b). He violated the terms of his probation three times.

II.

Nine counts of violating a G. L. c. 209A abuse prevention order (June 3, 2000, and September 7, 2000, to October 17, 2000)

The respondent pleaded guilty on June 6, 2001, in the District Court in Springfield. He was sentenced to one year in the Hampden County House of Correction, three months to be served, and the balance suspended, with probation until June 6, 2002, concurrent with the sentence imposed on I (b) in the Hampden County Superior Court on June 4, 2001. The respondent violated the terms of his probation.

III.

(a) Breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony (October 27, 2000)

(b) Malicious destruction of property (under $250) (October 27, 2000)

(c) Violating a G. L. c. 209A abuse prevention order (October 27, 2000)

The respondent pleaded guilty on June 6, 2001, in the District Court in Springfield. He was sentenced on III (a) and III (c) to one year in the Hampden County House of Correction, six months direct and the balance suspended, with probation until June 6, 2001. Three sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on I (b) in the Hampden County Superior Court on June 4. He was sentenced to sixty days in the House of Correction on III (b), concurrent with the sentence imposed on I (b). The respondent violated the terms of his probation.

IV.

(a) Assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (February 9, 2001)

(b) Assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (February 9, 2001)

(c) Assault and battery on a police officer (February 9, 2001)

(d) Assault and battery on a police officer (February 9, 2001)

(e) Resisting arrest (February 9, 2001)

(f) Threatening to commit a crime (February 9, 2001)

(g) Negligent operation of a motor vehicle (February 9, 2001)

(h) Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (February 9, 2001)

(i) Carrying a dangerous weapon (February 9, 2001)

The respondent admitted sufficient facts on June 15, 2001, in the District Court in Springfield to warrant guilty findings. He was found guilty and sentenced to three months in the Hampden County House of Correction on IV(c) and IV(d); one year probation on IV(e) and IV(f); all sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on I(b) in the Hampden County Superior Court on June 4. Disposition on IV(a), IV(b), IV(g), IV(h), and IV(i) were continued without a finding until June 17, 2002. The defendant violated the terms of his probation, and guilty findings were entered on IV (a) and IV (b).

V.

Resisting Arrest.

The respondent pleaded guilty on June 6, 2001, in the District Court in Springfield. He was sentenced to three months in the Hampden County House of Correction, concurrent with I (b) in the Hampden County Superior Court on June 4, 2001.

VI.

(a) Possession of ten or more counterfeit bills (January 7, 2003)

(b) Possession of counterfeiting equipment (January 7, 2003)

The respondent pleaded guilty on October 23, 2003, in the Hampden County Superior Court. He was sentenced to a term of three to five years in State prison on VI(a) and VI (b), concurrent with each other.

VII.

Larceny (sixth degree - under $250) (December 28, 2002)

he respondent pleaded guilty on January 16, 2004, in the Superior Court of Connecticut at Enfield, Connecticut, and was sentenced to an unconditional discharge.

These convictions warrant the board's conclusions that the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4 (c) (knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists); 8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer); 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); 8.4(d) (conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice); and 8.4(h) (conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law). In addition, the respondent failed to report some of his convictions to bar counsel within ten days of conviction, as required by S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 12(8).

The presumptive sanction for a serious felony conviction is disbarment or indefinite suspension. Matter of Concemi, 422 Mass. 326, 331 (1996). The fact that these crimes were committed in a context outside the practice of law, see id. at 331 n.5, is of no consequence in the circumstances here. Committing a crime in the course of practicing law is an aggravating factor. Id. at 31. Here, the sheer number of convictions, and the fact that some of the crimes pertain to the administration of justice, i.e., resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, violations of G. L. c. 209A abuse prevention orders, not to mention the violations of probation, weigh in favor of disbarment. Moreover, the counterfeiting crimes are crimes against the government itself. No one would seriously doubt that convictions of murder, armed robbery, or rape committed outside the practice of law would warrant disbarment. Here, the number of convictions and their seriousness warrant disbarment.

Although the crimes were committed during a time of great upheaval in the respondent's life, the sheer number of crimes spread out over approximately two years undermines any plausible claim for mitigation.

The final question is retroactivity. The respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on October 5, 2001. He did not file his affidavit of compliance with the order of temporary suspension until January 4, 2008. Generally, an order for disbarment may be ordered to commence retroactive to the date of compliance with an order of temporary suspension. Here, that date is January 4, 2008.

Written notice of the order of temporary suspension was sent to the respondent's last address filed with the board, as was the form affidavit for compliance with the order of temporary suspension. This court sent the former, and bar counsel sent the latter. However, the defendant did not receive these documents until approximately April 21, 2002, because he was a resident at the Hampden County House of Correction. Although the responsibility for providing a current address lies with the respondent, I cannot ignore the fact that this court and bar counsel had actual knowledge that the respondent was an inmate at the Hampden County House of Correction as of October 5, 2001, the date of the temporary suspension hearing, because the hearing was conducted by telephone and the defendant participated by telephone from the Hampden County House of Correction. I assume responsibility for not causing written notice from the court regarding the temporary suspension order to be sent to the respondent at the House of Correction. Assistant bar counsel concedes her office should have mailed a form affidavit of compliance to him at the House of Correction. In the interests of fairness, the respondent should be given credit for the period from October 5, 2001, to April 21, 2002, or approximately six and a half months before January 4, 2008.

The respondent is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law, retroactive to June 20, 2007.


FOOTNOTES:

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



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