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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-005


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cowin on February 8, 2008, with an effective date of March 10, 2008.1


The respondent was suspended for a year and a day for misconduct set forth in a four count petition for discipline.

The respondent is an attorney admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth on February 17, 1989. At all relevant times, he maintained an office in California and conducted his practice there. All of the counts in the petition pertain to matters arising in California. The respondent has never been a member of the State Bar of California.

In three of the matters that comprised the petition for discipline (Counts One, Two and Four), the respondent was paid a retainer (ranging, in the three cases, from $1,500 to $2,000) and agreed to represent the clients in discrimination claims against their employers. In Count One, the mandatory Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deadline for requesting counseling in a so called “federal sector” claim had already expired before the respondent was retained. The respondent filed the counseling request but gave the client incorrect advice as to the deadline and thereafter did not respond to the agency’s requests for information as to the reasons for the late filing. The matter was accordingly dismissed. In Count Two, the respondent never filed the client’s claim with the EEOC and the deadline for filing a complaint expired. In Count Four, the respondent failed to file a lawsuit against the client’s employer or provide assistance to the client with regard to filing a lawsuit within the time period authorized by the EEOC.

In Count Three, the respondent undertook to represent a client in a tort claim. He was paid retainers totaling $2,600 to assist the client in a potential claim for wrongful imprisonment against a federal law enforcement agency. He took no action to pursue the matter and never filed suit or provided assistance to the client with regard to a lawsuit.

In each of Counts Two, Three and Four, the fees paid the respondent by the clients were clearly excessive for the minimal services rendered. Despite repeated requests from the clients, the respondent failed to account for the fees or to refund any unearned portion. In addition, in Count Four, the respondent intentionally misrepresented to the client and bar counsel that a refund had been sent, knowing the statement to be false.

The respondent’s conduct in all four matters constituted lack of diligence, failure to communicate and failure to seek the clients’ lawful objectives, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3, 1.4(b), and 1.2(a). In Counts One and Two, the respondent’s conduct also constituted lack of competence, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1. In Counts Two, Three and Four, the respondent’s charging the clients clearly excessive fees and failing to account for or to refund unearned retainers were in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.5(a), Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(d), and Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b) for conduct prior to July 1, 2004, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(c) for conduct after July 1, 2004. The respondent’s misrepresentation to the client and bar counsel in Count Four was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c).

Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline against the respondent on August 31, 2007. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition. By letter dated September 24, 2007, the Board of Bar Overseers notified the respondent that the allegations in the petition were deemed admitted and that he had waived his right to be heard in mitigation. The respondent’s failure to cooperate in the disciplinary process was considered as a matter in aggravation.

On December 10, 2007, the Board voted to recommend to the Supreme Judicial Court that the respondent be suspended for a year and a day. The Court so ordered on February 8, 2008.


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.

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