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

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-074


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Sosman on May 27, 2005, with an effective date of June 26, 20051


On October 29, 2003, the respondent pleaded guilty and was convicted in the Bristol County Superior Court of the misdemeanor crime of motor vehicle homicide in violation of G.L.c.90, § 24G(b) (operating a motor vehicle negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered and by any such operation causing the death of another person). The respondent was sentenced to one year in the house of corrections, with execution suspended for three years and probation during that period. The respondent’s conduct in this respect constituted committing a criminal act and other conduct that reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h).

In a second matter, the respondent was retained in 2003 to represent a wife as plaintiff in a divorce action. The husband represented himself pro se. The respondent filed the complaint for divorce in probate court on November 17, 2003, pursuant to G.L.c. 208, § 1B.

In or before May 2004, the parties reached agreement as to the terms of a separation agreement. The respondent prepared the separation agreement, which was signed by the husband on May 4, 2004, and by the wife on June 23, 2004. The respondent advised the wife on June 23, 2004, that the court hearing might not be for several months because the courts were slow to schedule matters in the summer.

After the separation agreement was signed by both parties, but unknown to the wife until November 2004, the respondent failed to file the agreement with the probate court or to request that the court assign the case for hearing.

In September and October 2004, the wife telephoned the respondent repeatedly. She left voicemail messages, but he did not return her calls. Because she was unable to contact the respondent, the wife filed a complaint with bar counsel on October 22, 2004. Bar counsel sent the complaint to the respondent for a reply on November 3, 2004. On December 11, 2004, and after meeting with bar counsel on December 1, 2004, the respondent filed the separation agreement with the court and marked the divorce for hearing.

In late December 2004 or early January 2005, the court assigned the divorce case for hearing on January 18, 2005, and sent notice to the respondent and the husband, who was still representing himself. The respondent did not notify the wife of the hearing date. She instead learned from the husband in early January that the case was scheduled for hearing on January 18, 2005.

The wife then attempted to telephone the respondent and left voicemail messages for him, but he did not return her calls. Only after the wife again contacted bar counsel on January 11, 2005, and bar counsel intervened, did the respondent call the wife on Friday, January 14, 2005, to confirm that the case was scheduled for hearing the following Tuesday, January 18, 2005. The divorce hearing was held on January 18, 2005, and the case is now concluded.

The respondent’s lack of diligence and promptness in his representation of the wife, and his failure to keep her reasonably informed about the status of the divorce case and to comply with her reasonable requests for information, is conduct in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4 (a).

In aggravation, the respondent had a prior admonition from 2000 for neglect of a civil matter resulting in dismissal of the client’s claim.

The matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation that the respondent be suspended for six months. On May 9, 2005, the Board voted to accept the stipulation and to recommend the agreed-upon disposition to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court so ordered on May 27, 2005.

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.

BBO/OBC Privacy Policy. Please direct all questions to
© 2004. Board of Bar Overseers. Office of Bar Counsel. All rights reserved.