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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-063

IN RE: JEFFREY D. CEDARFIELD

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Greaney on July 15, 2008.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was admitted to the Connecticut and Massachusetts bars and practiced law in Connecticut. In October 2006, the respondent was representing an insurer in a personal injury action. On October 30, 2006, the trial judge granted, after an evidentiary hearing, plaintiff’s motion to preclude the defendant’s expert witness testimony. The presiding judge who had held a status conference relevant to the motion testified at the hearing. The day after the motion was granted, the respondent refused to commence jury selection. The respondent suggested to the trial judge that there was the “risk of ex parte communications “ between the presiding judge and plaintiff’s counsel but he did not know for sure that they had occurred.

The trial judge referred the respondent to the presiding judge, who ordered the respondent to pick a jury and warned the respondent of the consequences of failing to do so. When the respondent persisted in refusing to engage in jury selection, the presiding judge entered a default against the respondent’s client and referred the matter to the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee.

The reviewing committee of the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee concluded that the respondent had engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by deliberately refusing to comply with the court’s order to pick a jury. The record did not establish by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent had made reckless or knowingly false statements concerning the possibility of ex parte communications between the presiding judge and plaintiff’s counsel, but the committee did not condone the remarks and recommended that the respondent be more “circumspect” about expressing his perception of the court and the judicial process in the future.

On April 11, 2008, the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford, Connecticut, suspended the respondent from the practice of law for five months commencing May 1, 2008. The respondent was also ordered to write letters of apology to the two judges.

The respondent did not notify the Board of Bar Overseers or bar counsel of his suspension in Connecticut within ten days of the Connecticut order. On June 11, 2008, bar counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline pursuant to S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 16. The respondent did not oppose reciprocal discipline but asked that the effective date in Massachusetts be retroactive to May 1, 2008. Bar counsel opposed retroactivity because the respondent had violated S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 16(6), by failing to report the suspension. On July 15, 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Greaney, J.) entered an order suspending the respondent for five months effective immediately upon entry of the order.


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 filed with the Supreme Judicial Court.



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