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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-83-006

IN RE: ROBERT TESTA

S.J.C. Order of Reinstatement entered by Justice Cowin on March 5, 20031

HEARING PANEL REPORT

I. Introduction

The Petitioner, Robert Testa ("Mr. Testa"), was suspended from the practice of law in Rhode Island by order of the Rhode Island Supreme Court dated March 22, 1990, based upon his first drug conviction as described more completely below. On July 23, 1991, Mr. Testa was suspended indefinitely from practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Mr. Testa filed a Petition for Reinstatement, and a hearing on the Petition was held on November 30, 2001, before a Panel consisting of M. Ellen Carpenter (Chair), Thomas E. Peisch and Bettie H. Kornegay. The Panel heard testimony from two witnesses and received into evidence various exhibits. At the conclusion of the hearing and by letter dated March 5, 2002, Bar Counsel informed the Panel that he does not oppose the Petition, subject to the conditions set forth in Part III, below. In consideration of the testimony and exhibits, the Panel recommends that the Petition be allowed, subject to the conditions set forth by Bar Counsel.

II. Findings of Fact

Mr. Testa was born on February 9, 1947. He resides in Providence, Rhode Island with his mother, wife, stepson and son. He attended the University of Rhode Island from 1963 to 1965 before transferring to Union College, Kentucky, from which he graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Upon graduating from college, Mr. Testa became a teacher and taught at Johnson & Wales University, substituted in the Providence school system and taught at Hope High School in Providence.

From 1972 through 1976 Mr. Testa attended Rhode Island College part time and earned his Masters in the Art of Teaching; from 1973 through 1976, he also attended Suffolk University Law School and received his Juris Doctorate cum laude. Mr. Testa was admitted to practice law in both Rhode Island and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1976. Thereafter, Mr. Testa practiced law, concentrating in civil litigation. Most of his legal work was in Rhode Island.

In 1980, Mr. Testa began using cocaine and thereafter became addicted. He was convicted in Rhode Island of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, and possession of cocaine. He pled nolo contendere on January 10, 1990. The sentences imposed on these offenses were subsequently amended and reduced. In 1994, Mr. Testa was again charged with possession of cocaine and again pled nolo contendere.

Mr. Testa was suspended from the practice of law in Rhode Island by order of the Rhode Island Supreme Court dated March 22, 1990, based upon his first drug offense conviction. On July 23, 1991, Mr. Testa was suspended indefinitely from practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. On December 22, 2000, he was reinstated to practice law in the State of Rhode Island.

On August 24, 2001, Mr. Testa filed this petition for reinstatement to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In accordance with Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, §18(2), an attorney who has been suspended for an indefinite period may not petition for reinstatement until five years from the effective date of the order of suspension. Mr. Testa waited more than ten years from the date of his suspension to seek reinstatement. He has filed the necessary applications, paid the costs associated with the application, and provided the Board with evidence that he received a passing grade on the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination.

Mr. Testa received treatment as follows for his addiction:

A. Salvation Army Adult Residence Rehabilitation Center, 201 Pitman Street Providence, RI - June 9, 1992 - graduated their program (including random drug screens, individual and group counseling, AA or NA meetings seven days per week, required chapel bible studies, mentoring and sponsoring, intense homework and reading).

B. CODAC Drug Treatment Program, 1052 Park Avenue, Cranston -weekly drug screens, weekly individual counseling, weekly group counseling, December 1992 through June 1994.

C. Weekly AA meetings Sunday night at Memorial Hospital, Pawtucket, RI (1992 to present); daily AA meetings -daily (Freedom Hall) Providence, RI (1992 to present); daily NA meetings daily (One Day At A Time) Providence, RI; (1992 to present).

D. Treated with Alexander Scagnelli, M.D. of The Psychiatric Care Group, Inc. of Warwick, RI from 1995 through 1997.

During the years 1992 through 2000, Mr. Testa worked a variety of jobs trying to support himself and his family, including his present wife and stepson. Mr. Testa worked as a laborer, a home inspector, an investigator and as a personal injury claims adjuster.

From 1993 to date Mr. Testa has expended thousands of dollars and approximately 10,000 hours of his time to research, develop, produce and market drug prevention programs. The drug awareness education programs have been presented to more than 50 elementary and secondary classrooms in Rhode Island. Mr. Testa has also produced videotapes and worksheets to enhance the drug prevention programs. A portion of one of the videotapes was played for the Hearing Panel during the hearing. Mr. Testa provided the Panel with numerous letters from students, teachers, parents, school administrators and law enforcement officers praising the drug prevention programs.

From December of 2000 to date, Mr. Testa has practiced law in the State of Rhode Island in association with Attorney Peter D’Amico, an attorney practicing law in Rhode Island for more than 28 years. Mr. Testa has continued to stay current with case law and statutory and administrative regulations in both states. He has also taken numerous continuing legal education courses and seminars. Mr. Testa has modified his work schedule to allow him to lead a more balanced life, spending more time with his mother, wife and sons.

There have been no objections to the petitions for reinstatement by bar associations in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, or by any members of the public.

III. Bar Counsel’s Position

Bar Counsel notified the Hearing Panel that of his position that Mr. Testa’s petition should be allowed, subject to the same conditions imposed upon his reinstatement in Rhode Island. Those conditions are as follows:

1. David S. Cass, Esq., or some other attorney acceptable to Bar Counsel, shall supervise Mr. Testa by monitoring his client files and client and business checking accounts on a monthly basis for a period of two (2) years from the date of Mr. Testa’s reinstatement in the Commonwealth.

2. The supervising attorney shall provide monthly written reports to Bar Counsel regarding Mr. Testa’s compliance with the order of supervision.

3. Mr. Testa shall obtain and maintain legal malpractice insurance coverage and submit proof to Bar Counsel that an insurance policy is in effect.

4. Mr. Testa shall authorize his treating health care provider(s) to communicate with Bar

Counsel regarding his compliance with his treatment program. This authorization shall be in writing, with a copy submitted to his health care provider(s) and Bar Counsel.

5. Mr. Testa shall at all times refrain from the use of illegal drugs.

IV. Conclusions

On a petition for reinstatement, the Petitioner has the burden of proving that he has the moral qualifications required for admission to practice law; that he has the competency and learning in law required for admission; and that his resumption of practice will not be detrimental to the integrity or standing of the bar, the administration of justice or the public interest. S.J.C. Rule 4:01, §18(5); Matter of Cappiello, 416 Mass. 340, 9 Mass. Att’y. Disc. R. 47 (1993); Matter of Waitz, 416 Mass. 298, 9 Mass. Att’y. Disc. R. 336 (1993). In evaluating a petition for reinstatement, the true test must always be the public welfare. Matter of Waitz, supra.

Bar Counsel stated in his March 5, 2002 letter that he is content Mr. Testa has met his burden of proof for reinstatement. The Panel concurs.

Mr. Testa has addressed the errors he made that cost him his license to practice law. He has received treatment for his addiction and has been drug free for 10 years. He has also devoted substantial time and resources to develop drug prevention programs that he presents to schoolchildren in Rhode Island. These programs have been well received, as evidenced by the letters from students, teachers, parents, school administrators and law enforcement officers reviewed by the Panel.

Additionally, Mr. Testa has been reinstated to practice in Rhode Island and has practiced there from December of 2000 with Attorney D’Amico. The Panel is satisfied that Mr. Testa has the necessary competency to practice law because he stayed current with case law and took many continuing legal education courses.

The Panel concludes that Petitioner has rehabilitated himself morally, developed a sense of purpose, and prepared himself intellectually to be a productive member of the Bar.

IV. Recommendation

For the foregoing reasons, the Panel recommends that Petitioner be reinstated to the Bar of the Commonwealth, subject to the conditions set forth in Part III above.

Respectfully submitted,
M. Ellen Carpenter, Chair
Thomas E. Peisch
Bettie H. Kornegay

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



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