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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2004-077

IN RE: THOMAS A. PATCH

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cowin on November 4, 2004, with an effective date of December 4, 2004.1

SUMMARY2

Beginning in September 1997, the respondent was involved in divorce proceedings with his wife. The respondent represented himself in the divorce and all related proceedings. During the course of the proceedings, the respondent was found in contempt on seven occasions. The orders of contempt found that the respondent failed to pay child support, failed to maintain health insurance coverage for his child, failed to pay household expenses, failed to purchase a life insurance policy with his son as beneficiary and filed an incomplete and inaccurate financial statement on or before a court-imposed deadline. The respondent was also found to have failed to timely comply with orders to pay attorneyís fees and sanctions in connection with the above contempts.

The respondent attempted to appeal the judgments of contempt. Some of the appeals were dismissed for failure to timely file briefs. The respondent requested additional time to file briefs, but his requests were denied. The remaining notices of appeal were not perfected.

The respondentís failure to comply with the orders of the court, resulting in seven adjudications of contempt in his own divorce, constitutes conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d) and conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(h).

Before the matter was brought to the attention of bar counsel, a process was agreed upon to sell marital property. The marital property was sold, all arrearages paid and all contempts purged.

In mitigation, according to the respondentís treating physician, the breakup of the respondentís marriage, difficulties implementing visitation with his minor son, the death of his maternal grandmother with whom he had a close relationship, and financial reversals contributed to clinical depression that began in the fall of 1997 and was diagnosed in the spring of 1998. The respondent was not able to make logical and appropriate decisions in his personal life. The respondentís initial efforts at treatment and finding the correct medication were not successful and his depression and financial situation continued to deteriorate. The respondent is currently receiving anti-depressant medication and as-needed talk therapy with a counselor.

The parties stipulated that the appropriate sanction was a three-month suspension. On September 13, 2004, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the partiesí stipulation and to recommend the agreed-upon disposition to the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. The Court so ordered on November 4, 2004.

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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