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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-046


S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Botsford on July 9, 2008.1

S.J.C. Judgment of Reinstatement entered by Justice Botsford on September 17, 2008.


The respondent, James Andrew Pixton, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar on January 14, 1997. He was also admitted to the California bar. The respondent practiced law in California and was on retired status in Massachusetts. On January 10, 2008, the California Supreme Court suspended the respondent from the practice of law for one year, with execution stayed on conditions that the respondent be placed on probation for two years and actually suspended from practice for thirty days. The respondent did not report this sanction to the Office of Bar Counsel or the Board of Bar Overseers, thereby violating S. J. C. Rule 4:01, ß 16(6).

The sanction arose from the respondentís representation of a client in 2006 seeking modification of spousal and child support orders and in a related wage garnishment. The respondent was paid a $2000 retainer in March 2006. The respondent did not perform the services for which he was hired. In December 2006, the respondent misrepresented to the client that there were two hearings scheduled in court on the clientís case but that the client need not attend either of them. In fact, the respondent had not filed any pleadings and no hearing had been requested or scheduled. The client later went to the courthouse to attend a hearing that the respondent had told the client would occur. There the client learned that no hearing had been scheduled. In early 2007, the respondent admitted to the client that he had lied and promised either to file the motion for modification within two or three weeks or return the clientís money to him. The respondent did neither. The client demanded a refund, and, after the respondent failed to comply with the demand, filed a complaint with the California State Bar in February 2007. After receiving notice of the complaint from the State Bar, the respondent contacted the client and offered to refund the $2000 if the client dropped his complaint. The client refused. The respondent did not refund the fee to the client.

The respondent was found to have intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly failed to perform legal services with competence; failed to refund the unearned portion of the fee paid; violated California law by seeking an agreement from the client to withdraw or not cooperate with a bar discipline investigation; and committed acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption by misrepresenting that there were court dates set in the clientís case and by offering to refund the fee if the client dropped the State Bar complaint. The respondent had no record of prior discipline and, at the time of the offenses, was experiencing financial problems due to a failed law partnership as well as emotional problems arising from substantial medical problems affecting him and his son.

On April 17, 2008, bar counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. On June 23, 2008, the respondent waived hearing and assented to an order of reciprocal discipline. On July 9, 2008, the county court (Botsford, J.) entered an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law for one year, with execution stayed on conditions that the respondent be placed on probation for two years and actually suspended from practice for thirty days. The orderís effective date was the date of entry in Massachusetts. The respondentís reinstatement in Massachusetts was conditioned upon his reinstatement in California, but he was not required to take and pass the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination.


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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