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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-078

IN RE: LUCIOUS DILLON

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on November 13, 2001, with an effective date of December 13, 2001.1

SUMMARY2

This matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation filed by the parties. The respondent admitted to engaging in professional misconduct involving three separate clients, as follows.

The first matter involved the respondent’s conduct as the attorney for the buyer in the purchase of real estate in October 1996. At the closing, the respondent withheld $1,060 from the proceeds to discharge a medical assistance lien on the property. After the closing, the respondent neglected to pay the lien. The respondent failed to keep track of the funds withheld for the lien, commingled those funds with his own funds, and mistakenly used the funds for his own business or personal expenses.

By neglecting to discharge the lien, the respondent violated Canon Six, DR 6-101(A)(2) and (3) (lawyer shall not handle a legal matter without adequate preparation, or neglect a legal matter entrusted to him), and Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3) (lawyer shall not intentionally fail to seek lawful objectives of his client, fail to carry out a contract of employment, or prejudice client during the course of representation). By failing to keep adequate records of his receipt and maintenance of the funds he received to discharge the lien, by commingling the funds with his own funds, and by negligently applying the funds to his own use, the respondent violated Canon Six, DR 6-101(A)(2) and (3), Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3), and Canon Nine, DR 9-102(A) and (B) (lawyer shall maintain client funds in IOLTA account, shall keep client property in place of safekeeping, and shall maintain complete records of handling, maintenance, and disposition of client property in his possession).

In the second matter, the respondent was retained in 1994 to represent a client in an uncontested divorce. The client paid the respondent a retainer of $200 and agreed to pay the respondent $100 per hour for his services. The respondent failed to contact an identifying witness to effect service of the divorce complaint on the client’s husband. The client discharged the respondent in June 1995, and demanded an accounting of the funds she had paid to the respondent. Although the respondent had performed at least two hours of work on the client’s behalf, he failed to account to the client for this time.

By failing to effect service of the complaint for divorce, the respondent violated Canon Six, DR 6-101(A)(3), and Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3). By failing to account for the funds he had received from the client, the respondent violated Canon Nine, DR 9-102(B)(3) (lawyer shall render appropriate accounts to client regarding funds of client in possession of lawyer).

In the third case, the respondent was retained in February 1995 to represent a client in a discrimination case against the client’s employer. Although the respondent worked on the case in 1995, after January 1996, the respondent failed to communicate with the client and took no further action of substance in the client’s case. When the defendant’s counsel filed a motion for summary judgment, the respondent did not inform the client, and he neglected to prepare or file an opposition to the motion. As a result, the court granted the motion. The respondent failed to inform the client that summary judgment had been entered against her. The client discharged the respondent in June 1996 and directed him to turn over her file to new counsel. The respondent failed to comply with this direction until November or December 1996.

The respondents’ failure to communicate with his client about her case, to oppose summary judgment, and to advise his client that her case had been dismissed violated Canon Six, DR 6-101(A)(2) and (3), DR 6-102(A) (lawyer shall not attempt to limit his liability to client for his personal malpractice), and Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3). His failure to turn over his client’s file to successor counsel violated Canon Two, DR 2-110(A)(4) (lawyer must make client’s file available to former client within a reasonable time.

In addition, the respondent failed to cooperate in bar counsel’s investigation of these matters. On September 25, 1997, the respondent was administratively suspended for his failure to provide information to bar counsel pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 3(2). The respondent failed to comply with the terms of the administrative suspension in violation of S.J.C. Rule 4:01, §§ 3(3) and 17, and Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(5) and (6) (lawyer shall not engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice or other conduct adversely reflecting on fitness to practice).

Between 1994 and 1996, the respondent was involved in two separate automobile accidents that caused him to suffer serious and debilitating pain. In early 1997, the respondent ceased the practice of law altogether. These factors were considered in mitigation.

Bar counsel and the respondent jointly recommended that the respondent be suspended for two years. On September 10, 2001, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the stipulation and its recommendation for discipline. On October 30, 2001, the Board filed an information recommending that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years. On November 13, 2001, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Cordy, J.) entered an order suspending the respondent for two years.

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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