Mass.gov
   
Mass.Gov home Mass.gov  home get things done agencies Search Mass.Gov


Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-024

IN RE: EDWARD J. OWENS

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension (six months) entered by Justice Sosman on May 21, 2003, with an effective date of June 20, 2003. 1
SUMMARY2

The respondent engaged in professional misconduct involving the representation of the estate of the deceased owner of several lots which were the subject of a claim for adverse possession.

Before his death, the owner had entered into a written agreement to sell the lots. While the lots were under agreement and before any closing on the sale, an abutter filed an action in the Land Court claiming ownership of the lots by adverse possession. The respondent appeared to defend the owner of the lots in the Land Court action with the owner's consent after disclosure to the owner that the respondent also represented the buyer.

After the owner's death, the respondent never notified the executrix that the matter was pending in the Land Court or sought her permission to continue to represent the owner's estate. Instead, the respondent continued to represent the estate and entered into and prepared a settlement agreement whereby the owner's estate surrendered all of its interest in the lots for no consideration. The respondent took all of these actions while continuing to represent the buyer in this matter and other unrelated matters. When the executrix became aware of this settlement just after settlement documents were filed with the Land Court, she retained her own counsel. New counsel for the executrix obtained a revocation of the settlement and arranged a settlement which resulted in a payment to the owner's estate in excess of $20,000.

By purporting to represent his deceased clientís estate while he was also representing the buyer in the purchase of the lots and other matters, and by allowing the buyer to direct his judgment in the representation of his deceased client's estate and his purported representation of the executrix of his deceased client's estate, the respondent violated DR 5-105(A), (B) & (C) and as to conduct occurring after January 1, 1998, Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.7 (a) & (b). By failing to communicate to the executrix that he was defending against the adverse possession lawsuit and by continuing to defend against it without her knowledge or consent, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.2(a), 1.4, and 8.4(c),(d)&(h). By misrepresenting to the court that he was authorized to represent the executrix by filing a motion to substitute parties and other pleadings as her counsel, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.2(a) and 8.4(c),(d)&(h). By entering into an agreement for judgment without the executrix's consent or knowledge, the respondentís conduct was in violation of Mass. R. of Prof. C. 1.2(a), 1.7(a) & (b), and 8.4(c), (d) & (h). By communicating an offer to purchase the lots to the opposing party's estate on the buyer's behalf while relinquishing the estate's interest in the lots at the same time and by simultaneously representing the buyer and the estate's interest in the lots, the respondent violated Mass. R. of Prof. C. 1.7(a) & (b).

The respondent has been in practice since 1956. He has no disciplinary history.

On September 20, 2002, bar counsel commenced disciplinary proceedings before the Board of Bar Overseers by filing a petition for discipline. On March 3, 2003, bar counsel and the respondent filed Respondent's Amended Answer to Petition for Discipline and Stipulation of the Parties. On April 14, 2003, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the stipulation of the parties and their joint recommendation to file an information with the Supreme Judicial court recommending that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. On May 21, 2003, the Court entered an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law for a period of six months.

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 Supreme Judicial Court.



BBO/OBC Privacy Policy. Please direct all questions to webmaster@massbbo.org.
© 2003. Board of Bar Overseers. Office of Bar Counsel. All rights reserved.