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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2003-077


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Ireland on May 19, 2004.1

Prior to November of 2001, a client retained the respondent to assist him in pursuing permanent residency status in the U.S. through a labor certification. On August 6, 2003, the client retained an attorney to succeed the respondent and pursue permanent residency status. On that date, the client signed a release, discharging the respondent and authorizing the respondent to forward his file to his new attorney. On August 7, 2003, the new attorney faxed the release to the respondent and requested that she forward the clientís file.

On September 4, 2003, the respondent provided new counsel with a letter enclosing what purported to be a copy of the clientís Application for Alien Employment Certification filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration on February 6, 2002. In addition, the respondent enclosed what purported to be a copy of a Final Determination dated January 7, 2003 on the clientís Application for Employment Certification with the respondentís certification that the copy was a true and accurate copy of the original. The respondent stated in her letter that she had certified the copy of the Final Determination because the original Final Determination appeared to have been misfiled by her.

The copies of the Application and of the Final Determination that the respondent sent to new counsel were fabricated by the respondent. The respondent never filed any application on behalf of the client and the government never issued a Final Determination. To the contrary, between November of 2001 and August of 2003, the respondent had failed to take any substantive action to assist her client in pursuing permanent residency status in the U.S.

The respondentís transmission to successor counsel of fabricated legal documents was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 4.1(a) and 8.4(c) and (h). The respondentís neglect, lack of diligence and failure to seek the lawful objectives of her client was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.2(a) and 1.3.

In aggravation, the respondent received an admonition on April 22, 2000 for neglect of an immigration case. In addition, on October 15, 2001, the respondent received a public reprimand for her conduct in two unrelated matters. In the first matter, the respondent failed to transmit a clientís file to successor counsel and failed to cooperate with Bar Counsel. In the second matter, the respondent neglected a labor certification matter.

In mitigation, during the time period of the events described in the petition for discipline, the respondent suffered from clinical depression. She is currently receiving treatment.

The parties stipulated that the appropriate sanction for the respondentís misconduct was a suspension of one year and one day. On April 12, 2004, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the partiesí stipulation and proposed sanction. On May 19, 2004, the Court entered an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law for a period of one year and one day retroactive to December 11, 2003, the date of her temporary suspension.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

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