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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-054

IN RE: MICHAEL READ FULLER

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Ireland on May 17, 2004.1

SUMMARY2

This matter came before the Court on the respondent’s affidavit of resignation pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 15. The respondent admitted in his affidavit of resignation that the material facts upon which a statement of disciplinary charges was predicated would be established by a preponderance of the evidence at hearing and that a hearing committee, the Board of Bar Overseers and the Court would conclude that he had committed the acts set forth in the statement.

Between October 6, 2000, and September 8, 2003, the respondent deposited fifteen settlement checks received on behalf of clients into various bank accounts. The respondent failed to timely remit to these clients or to third parties the portion of the settlements they were entitled to receive and instead intentionally used the funds for personal or business purposes unrelated to those clients and without the clients’ knowledge or authorization. The respondent’s intentional misuse of client funds with intent to deprive the clients of the funds, at least temporarily, and with actual deprivation resulting was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(a) - (d) and 8.4(c) and (h).

Between July of 2001, and April of 2002, during the course of his representation of clients in connection with separate pending or anticipated litigation matters, the respondent provided financial assistance to six clients by providing them with funds he described as “loan advances.” The amount advanced to the six clients during this time period totaled $13,650.00. The respondent’s conduct in paying advances to clients was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.8(e).

The respondent neglected multiple client matters. In two matters, the respondent failed to file suit before the expiration of the statute of limitations. In another matter, the respondent failed to respond to interrogatories, resulting in a judgment against his client. In two other matters, the respondent failed to serve civil complaints, resulting in dismissal of each case. In each of the matters described above, the respondent failed to advise his clients as to the status of their cases. The clients were not aware that their cases had not been filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitation, or that their cases had been dismissed due to the respondent’s neglect, until Bar Counsel commenced his investigation. The respondent’s failure to advise his clients as to the status of their matters, failure to act with diligence, and neglect of client matters, with harm to the clients resulting, was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4.

On September 11, 2003, upon a stipulation of the parties, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order temporarily suspending the respondent from the practice of law, effective immediately, pending further disciplinary proceedings. The respondent did not comply with the terms of his temporary suspension, in violation Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d) & (h), as well as Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, §17 and §3(3).

Following the entry of the order of temporary suspension on September 11, 2003, the respondent also engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The respondent’s conduct in continuing to practice law while temporarily suspended was in violation Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5(a) and 8.4(d) & (h), as well as of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, §17 and §3(1).

The affidavit of resignation was filed with the Board of Bar Overseers on March 4, 2004. On April 12, 2004, the Board voted to recommend that the affidavit of resignation be accepted and that an order of disbarment be entered effective on the date of the order. On May 17, 2004, 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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