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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2006-008

IN RE: IRVING AARON COHEN

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Greaney on February 1, 2006, with an effective date of March 3, 2006.1

(S.J.C. Judgment of Reinstatement entered by Justice Greaney on June 12, 2006.)

SUMMARY2

On August 11, 1994, the respondent’s wife filed a complaint for divorce against the respondent and on August 22,1994, the respondent filed his answer to the complaint for divorce. On August 19, 1994, the Court entered a temporary order incorporating a stipulation between the parties. Among other things, the order required the respondent to make weekly child support payments to his wife and to pay certain other expenses. The respondent did not comply with certain terms of the August 19, 1994 temporary order and on May 8, 1998, the respondent’s wife filed an amended complaint for contempt against the respondent. On August 20, 1998, the Court entered a temporary order incorporating a stipulation between the parties with regard to the complaint for contempt. Among other things, the order required the respondent to make weekly child support payments to his wife and to pay certain other expenses.

The respondent did not fully comply with the August 20, 1998 temporary order and on March 26, 1999, the respondent’s wife filed a complaint for contempt against the respondent, alleging that the respondent had failed to comply with the August 19, 1994 and August 20, 1998 temporary orders. By order dated April 5, 1999, the Court noted that the respondent had agreed to the prior temporary orders but had not paid the required support. The Court found the respondent to be in arrears on support payments and ordered him to comply with all terms of the August 20, 1998 temporary order, to make additional payments to cure the arrears, and to pay a set sum towards his wife’s attorney’s fees.

On April 21, 1999, the Court issued an order finding the respondent in contempt for failing to comply with the August 19, 1994 and August 20, 1998 temporary orders. Specifically, the Court found that the respondent had failed to make required payments for child support, health insurance, life insurance premiums, and an umbrella insurance policy.

On June 21, 1999, the Court issued an order requiring the respondent to immediately establish an electronic transfer from his bank account to his wife’s bank account every Friday. The respondent did not comply with the June 21, 1999 order and on August 6, 1999, the respondent’s wife filed a complaint for contempt against the respondent. On August 30, 1999, the Court found the respondent in contempt of the June 21, 1999 order. The Court found that the respondent had ignored “the clear, unambiguous terms of Court orders” and had failed to pay child support as required. The Court also found that the respondent had failed to provide his wife with a car and to pay automobile insurance as previously ordered.

In findings of fact dated November 18, 1999, the Court again found the respondent in contempt for failing to pay expenses as agreed in the August 19, 1994 and August 20, 1998 stipulations

On November 18, 1999, the Court entered a judgment of divorce. On January 4, 2000, the Court vacated the original judgment and entered a new judgment of divorce, effective as of November 18, 1999. The judgment required that the respondent pay weekly child support, pay half of all uninsured medical expenses, and pay a portion of the children’s school tuition.

The respondent did not comply with certain provisions of the judgment of divorce and on February 22, 2000, the respondent’s wife filed another complaint for contempt. On March 27, 2000, the Court entered a temporary order incorporating a stipulation between the parties with regard to the February 22, 2000 complaint for contempt. As part of the stipulation, the respondent agreed to pay a set sum towards his wife’s attorney’s fees for the contempt action in twelve monthly payments commencing in April 2000.

The respondent did not comply with the March 27, 2000 temporary order and on or about August 14, 2000, the respondent’s wife filed a complaint for contempt against the respondent, alleging that the respondent had failed to comply with certain terms of the judgment of divorce and of the March 27, 2000 temporary order. A hearing on the February 22, 2000 and August 14, 2000 complaints for contempt was held on September 11, 2000. On September 11, 2000, the parties filed a stipulation in which the respondent agreed that he had not paid certain obligations. By order dated September 15, 2000, the respondent was ordered, among other things, to pay the child support arrearages and medical expenses. Trial on the remaining issues was set for October 4, 2000.

A trial was conducted on October 4, 2000 and December 8, 2000. By judgment dated August 13, 2001, the respondent was found to be in both civil and criminal contempt for failure to pay child support, his share of the children’s educational expenses, attorney fees, and uninsured medical expenses. The respondent was sentenced to jail for sixty days or until the contempt was purged. The sentence was suspended until October 1, 2001. All prior complaints for contempt were dismissed with prejudice.

On October 1, 2001, the respondent paid the amounts needed to purge himself of the sixty-day jail sentence. On or about June 25, 2002, the Court docketed the respondent’s notice of appeal from the judgment of contempt dated August 13, 2001. On October 4, 2004, the Appeals Court issued its opinion on the matter and affirmed the civil contempt and vacated the judgment of criminal contempt.

The respondent’s willful failure to comply with the August 19, 1994 and August 20, 1998 temporary orders, the June 21, 1999 order, the judgment of divorce effective November 18, 1999, and the March 27, 2000 temporary order, as described above, constitutes conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d), conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(h), and knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c).

This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for discipline by a three-month suspension On January 9, 2006, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the parties’ stipulation and proposed sanction. On February 2, 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County so ordered.

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 on the record submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court.



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