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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2004-075

IN RE: PAUL M. PAZNIOKAS

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Cowin on December 20, 2005.1

SUMMARY2

On November 4, 2002, the respondent admitted to sufficient facts in the West Roxbury District Court to possession of a Class B substance in violation of G. L. c. 94C, § 34. The respondent was placed on probation until May 5, 2003, with conditions that he refrain from “in[g]esting illegal substances” and submit to random urine testing. The respondent was found in violation of the terms of probation twice; on the second instance, the respondent was discharged from probation.

A second matter arose from criminal conduct while the respondent was on probation in the first matter. On September 27, 2004, the respondent admitted to sufficient facts in the Dedham District Court to two counts of possessing a firearm without a FID card in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10G, and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 15B. The police had responded to a call concerning an armed suspect. When they arrived at the reported address, the respondent threatened the police with a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter automatic weapon. The court placed the respondent on probation until March 24, 2006, with conditions that he remain drug- and alcohol-free, submit to random testing, and undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations and pursue recommended treatment.

Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline on January 3, 2005, charging that the respondent’s criminal conduct in these matters violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) (lawyer shall not commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness in other respects) and (h) (lawyer shall not engage in any other conduct that reflects adversely on fitness to practice law). The respondent’s conduct in violating the terms of his probation and in failing to report the convictions to bar counsel violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice) and (h).

The respondent did not file an answer within the twenty-day time limit and was defaulted. The respondent sought and received continuances to file his answer. The respondent’s last communication with the Board of Bar Overseers was on May 16, 2005, when he requested and was granted until August 27, 2005, to file an answer. On August 30, 2005, the board notified the parties that the allegations of the petition for discipline were deemed admitted and that bar counsel had seven days to provide evidence in aggravation. The respondent was given another twenty days to move to set aside the default, but he did not seek any relief.

Bar counsel provided to the Board of Bar Overseers and served on the respondent a disposition memorandum seeking disbarment. Bar counsel also filed copies of the respondent’s prior disciplinary sanctions. The respondent filed nothing.

The respondent was admitted to the bar of the commonwealth in 1988. He was administratively suspended from December 3, 1993, to March 9, 1995. The misconduct leading to the respondent’s public reprimand began in 1992, when he was “winding down his practice.” Matter of Pazniokas, 10 Mass. Att’y Disc. R. 213 (1994). In 2003, the respondent was suspended for two years for neglecting two separate estates and failing to cooperate in the bar discipline investigation and proceedings. Matter of Pazniokas, 19 Mass. Att’y Disc. R. 357 (2003) That suspension was for misconduct in two separate cases. The respondent also never filed an affidavit of compliance with the two-year suspension order.

On November 14, 2005, the Board of Bar Overseers voted unanimously to recommend to the Supreme Judicial Court that the respondent be disbarred. An information was filed on November 18, 2005. On December 8, 2005, after notice to the parties, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County held a hearing on the board’s recommendation. The respondent did not appear at this hearing. On December 20, 2005, the county court (Cowin, J.) entered a judgment of disbarment, effective immediately.

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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