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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-039

IN RE: MAUREEN M. DEMPSEY

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on August 27, 2003.1

SUMMARY2

On January 7, 2000, the respondent was notified by the Board of Bar Overseers that she had been administratively suspended from the practice of law for non-payment of her annual registration fee. On April 25, 2000, Bar Counsel met with the respondent and reiterated this information. On December 7, 2000, the respondent indicated to Bar Counsel that she was aware of her continued suspension and that she had no current clients.

On May 24, 2001, the respondent filed an affidavit with Bar Counsel and the Board of Bar Overseers for forwarding to the S.J.C. in support of her request for reinstatement to active status. In her affidavit, the respondent stated that during the period of her suspension she had not accepted any new retainers or engaged as an attorney in a legal matter of any nature. In reliance on this affidavit, the respondent was reinstated to active status.

On August 15, 2000, a client tendered a check in the amount of $250.00 to the respondent . The check represented the first installment of a $600.00 flat fee for the respondent to handle a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy. The client paid the balance in or before March 2001.

In April 2001, the client went to the respondentís office and signed certain papers that the client believed were to be filed by the respondent in the bankruptcy court. However, the respondent never filed a petition in bankruptcy on behalf of the client.

Between April 2001 and December 2001, the client left messages for the respondent on her voice mail, inquiring as to the status of his case. The respondent did not return his calls or respond to his requests for information.

In January 2002, the client retained successor counsel. At that time, the client had received a capias for his arrest from one of his unsecured creditors. On January 17, 2002, and January 20, 2002, successor counsel wrote to the respondent, explained that her client was scheduled to be arrested and demanded return of the money that had been paid to the respondent and the clientís records. The respondent did not reply.

On February 26, 2002, the client contacted Bar Counsel and learned, for the first time, that the respondent had been suspended when he first retained her and was then on inactive status. On March 18, 2002, the client filed a complaint with Bar Counsel in connection with the matters described above. The respondent failed to reply to correspondence from Bar Counsel directing her to answer the complaint. As a result, on July 19, 2002, Bar Counsel served the respondent with a subpoena requiring the respondent to appear at Bar Counselís office. The respondent failed to appear as directed or otherwise notify Bar Counsel of any inability to appear.

The respondentís conduct in accepting a retainer for a legal matter while administratively suspended from the practice of law was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5(a), 8.4(d) and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3(1). The respondentís lack of diligence and her failure to communicate was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4. The respondentís conduct in filing of a false affidavit with the Board and Bar Counsel was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c), (d) and (h). The respondentís failure to return client papers and records upon written demand was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(e). The respondentís failure to refund an unearned retainer and her failure to protect her clientís interests upon the termination of representation was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(d). The respondentís failure to cooperate with an investigation of Bar Counsel was in violation of S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g).

On March 26, 2003, Bar Counsel filed a petition for discipline against the respondent. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition or otherwise to cooperate in the disciplinary process and, pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 8(3), the allegations were therefore deemed admitted. On June 9, 2003, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the court that the respondent be suspended for two years and, on August 27, 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County so ordered.

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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