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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-087

IN RE: DAVID C. CASEY

S.J.C. Order of Public Reprimand entered by Justice Spina on September 22, 2009.1

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

The Board of Bar Overseers (board) has filed an information recommending that the respondent, David C. Casey, be publicly reprimanded, based on convictions for leaving the scene of a property damage accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.2 See G. L. c. 90, § 24 (2) (a). The board determined that these convictions were not for "serious crimes," see S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 12 (3), and that they did not arise in the course of his practice of law, but rather in the context of his private life. The board determined that the respondent's conduct, as established by the convictions, constituted violations of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (b) (engaging in criminal act that "reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects"). The respondent does not challenge this finding.

The board, joined by bar counsel, recommends a public reprimand for the respondent. The respondent contends that the appropriate sanction is a private admonition. Both parties rely on Matter of Blais, 1 Mass. Att'y Discipline Rep. 30 (1978). In that case the court ordered a public censure based on the attorney's conviction of the crime of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, the same crime of which the respondent has been convicted and which is the basis of this disciplinary proceeding. Although there was a fatality in that case, the court focused only on the conviction of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and not the personal injuries. I do the same.3 Consequently, personal injury played no part in that case, and the sanction would not have been less absent the personal injuries, as the respondent argues.

The crime of leaving the scene of a property damage accident connotes at least an indifference to one's obligations to others whose property has been harmed by one's negligence, as well as a desire to avoid civil responsibility therefor. Where the defendant who has committed such a crime is a lawyer, this type of misconduct evidences a mindset that reflects negatively and directly on his honesty and his fitness as a lawyer. The interests of the legal profession and the interests of the public are best served in this case if the respondent is publicly reprimanded for his conduct, and I hereby impose that sanction. It is comparable to sanctions imposed in similar cases. See Matter of Blais, supra.


FOOTNOTES:

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 The respondent pleaded not guilty to the first charge, and was found guilty. He admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilty on the second charge, sufficient facts were found, and the case was continued for one year without a finding of guilty. Both dispositions are deemed "convictions" for purposes of discipline. See S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 12 (1).

3 The injuries to one of the passengers in the other car in this case were significant.



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