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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2005-0052

IN RE: LAWRENCE RIZMAN

S.J.C. Order Accepting Resignation and Imposing Indefinite Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on April 12, 2007.1

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Lawrence Rizman was admitted to the practice of law in 1988. On March 29, 2005, in the Dedham District Court, he admitted to having fraudulently used the name and identity of a client to rent an apartment for his family in May, 2003, after having been evicted from another apartment. Subsequent to renting the apartment, Rizman fell into arrears in paying rent, and when the landlord attempted to collect the past due rent from the client, his misconduct was uncovered and admitted. At the plea and sentencing hearing in District Court, Rizman's mental illness was brought to the attention of the judge, and the criminal charge (a misdemeanor violation of G. L. c. 266, § 37E), was continued without a finding for four years with conditions including an order of restitution. The restitution has been paid, and the probation ends on March 29, 2009.

Bar counsel began an investigation into Rizman's conduct in 2004, and Rizman was administratively suspended on December 24, 2004, for failing to cooperate with the bar counsel's inquiry. A petition for discipline was filed on September 20, 2005. A hearing on the petition commenced in April, 2006, but prior to the second day of the hearing, Rizman submitted an affidavit of resignation from the practice of law pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, § 15, as appearing in 425 Mass. 1319 (1997) (resignation by lawyer under disciplinary investigation). In his affidavit, Rizman waived further proceedings before the Board of Bar Overseers (board), waived his right to contest the facts or the rule violations with which he was charged in the pending proceedings,2 and acknowledged that a judgment against him, including possibly disbarment, might result. Rizman reserved the right to make recommendations regarding whether he should be disbarred in addition to having his resignation accepted by this court.

When the matter came before me for consideration, Rizman requested that his resignation be accepted. He acknowledged that, by resigning from the bar while under disciplinary investigation, he would not be permitted to petition for reinstatement to the bar for eight years, pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 18 (2) (a), as appearing in 430 Mass. 1329 (2000). He also requested that, rather than disbarment, a two year suspension be imposed as discipline for his acknowledged violation of the ethical rules committed in connection with his criminal conduct. Bar counsel asked the court to accept Rizman's resignation and disbar him. I asked for further submissions regarding Rizman's history of mental illness and its treatment. Such submissions were received and responded to by bar counsel.

After considering all of the information before me, I accept Rizman's resignation from the bar, and further impose, by way of discipline, an indefinite suspension from the practice of law effective on the date of this order. This sanction adequately reflects the seriousness of the conduct, regardless of its categorization as a misdemeanor, but at the same time takes into consideration a life time of struggle with mental illness that contributed significantly to the conduct, and the efforts Rizman has undertaken to overcome the effects of that illness, and to make positive contributions to his community and his family.


FOOTNOTES:

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

2 Rizman also agreed not to contest the facts or the violations in any other disciplinary, reinstatement, or admission proceeding in any other jurisdiction.



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