Mass.gov
   
Mass.Gov home Mass.gov  home get things done agencies Search Mass.Gov


Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2006-087

IN RE: RICHARD A. JORDAN

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Spina on December 12, 2007.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth on May 5, 1982, and concentrated his practice in the area of intellectual property matters. In November 2003, a California corporation retained the respondent to prepare and file patent applications for various patents it had developed. One of the patents the company was seeking was referred to as the ď217 patent.Ē The respondent agreed to charge the company a flat fee of $25,000 for his services related to the 217 patent.

The respondent filed the application for the 217 patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 1, 2004. The USPTO required a filing fee of $6,255, but the respondent did not submit the filing fee with the application.

On June 18, 2004, the USPTO notified the respondent that the application would lapse if the filing fee and an additional $65 late fee were not received by August 18, 2004. The respondent received the notice from the USPTO, but he did not pay the filing fee and late charge, nor did he notify the client that the application would lapse if the fee and late charge were not paid by August 18, 2004.

On September 13, 2004, the respondent sent a letter to the client in which he intentionally implied that he had paid a $6,520 filing fee and a $40 assignment fee in connection with the patent application. The respondent asked the client to send him a check for his attorney fee and reimbursement for the filing and assignment fees.

On March 28, 2005, the client sent the respondent a check for $31,560 for his $25,000 legal fee, the $6,520 filing fee, and a $40 assignment fee. The respondent received the check, deposited it into his personal account, and used all of the funds to pay his own personal and business expenses. The respondent thus converted the $6,560 filing and assignment fees to his own use, with the intent to deprive the client of these funds.

Starting in May 2005 and continuing into October 2005, the clientís CFO/general counsel and a technical advisor employed by the client both tried to contact the respondent by phone, letter, and email for information about the patent application. The respondent did not reply to their messages. The client finally discharged the respondent and asked for its files on October 15, 2005. The respondent received notice of his discharge, but he failed to return to the company the funds and files due to it.

Sometime between October 15 and October 24, 2005, the clientís new lawyer discovered that the application for the 217 patent had lapsed because the filing fee had never been paid. From October 2005 until March 2006, the client made repeated requests to the respondent for information on the patent and for an accounting and return of the filing and assignment fees. The respondent failed to respond to these requests. The clientís new lawyer was able, however, to revive the patent application and have it approved by the USPTO.

By intentionally and falsely implying to his client that he had advanced $6,520 for the patent application filing fee and $40 for the assignment fee, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation). By failing to pay the filing and assignment fees for the patent application, the respondent violated Mass R. Prof. C. 1.1 (competent representation), 1.2(a) (lawyer to seek lawful objectives of client), and 1.3 (diligence). By failing to inform his client that its patent application would lapse because he had not paid the necessary filing fee, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4 (lawyer to keep client informed about status of matter and explain matter so client can make informed decisions about representation). The respondentís failure after May 2005 to respond to his clientís efforts to communicate with him and his abandonment of his clientís case without taking steps to protect the client and without returning the clientís property violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4 and 1.16(d) (upon discharge, lawyer must surrender papers and property to which client is entitled). The respondentís conversion of his clientís funds to his own personal or business use violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c). The respondentís failure to account for the disposition of the funds he received to pay the filing fee violated 1.15(d) (lawyer must account for clientís property upon clientís demand).

On March 14, 2006, in the course of investigating the clientís complaint, bar counsel sent a letter to the respondent about his handling of the clientís patent application. The respondent intentionally failed without good cause to reply to this letter, and he failed to provide information in response to three subsequent letters from bar counsel. That conduct violated S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3(1)(b) (failure to respond to request for information from bar counsel), and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.1(b) (lawyer shall not knowingly fail to respond to lawful demand for information from disciplinary authority), and 8.4(g) (lawyer shall not fail without good cause to cooperate with bar counselís investigation of a complaint).

On September 29, 2006, bar counsel filed in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County a petition for administrative suspension of the respondent for his failure to comply with bar counselís requests for information made in the course of investigating a complaint. On October 5, 2006, the Court entered an order administratively suspending the respondent from the practice of law. Among other things, the order required the respondent to notify his clients of his suspension, return to his clients all unearned fees and other property to which the clients were entitled, and submit to bar counsel an affidavit of his compliance with the courtís order. The respondent intentionally failed without good cause to comply with the terms of the order of administrative suspension. That failure violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) (knowingly disobey obligation under rules of a tribunal) and 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to administration of justice) and (h) (conduct adversely reflecting on fitness to practice law).

On February 15, 2007, bar counsel caused a subpoena issued by the Board of Bar Overseers to be served on the respondent compelling him to appear at the Office of Bar Counsel on March 13, 2007, to testify under oath about the work he had done for the company. The respondent intentionally failed to appear as required by the subpoena. The respondentís intentional failure without good cause to comply with a validly issued subpoena to appear at the Office of Bar Counsel and give testimony under oath violated S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 3(1)(a), and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.1(b) and 8.4(d) and (g) (failure without good cause to cooperate with bar counsel).

On July 17, 2007, bar counsel filed and served a petition for discipline alleging two counts of misconduct by the respondent. The respondent failed to answer or otherwise respond to the petition for discipline. On August 8, 2007, the Board entered a default and deemed the allegations of the petition for discipline admitted.

On August 28, 2007, the Board notified the respondent that it would determine the appropriate discipline on the basis of the documents in its file. The Board advised the respondent that he could submit a brief on disposition within fourteen days, which he failed to do. Bar counsel submitted a brief requesting that the respondent be disbarred with the judgment effective on the date of entry.

On October 15, 2007, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend that the respondent be disbarred. On December 12, 2007, the county court (Spina, J.) entered a judgment of disbarment against the respondent, effective on that date.


FOOTNOTES:

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 Supreme Judicial Court.



BBO/OBC Privacy Policy. Please direct all questions to webmaster@massbbo.org.
© 2005. Board of Bar Overseers. Office of Bar Counsel. All rights reserved.