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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-1992-0033


S.J.C. Order Denying Reinstatement entered by Justice Ireland on April 23, 2003 1
Reversed and remanded, 442 Mass. 1016 (2004)


I. Introduction

This is the second time that Allan Yon Kwong Wong ("Wong") has petitioned for reinstatement after his suspension from the practice of law. The suspension was entered by the Supreme Judicial Court on June 13, 1994 for a period of three years retroactive to January 1, 1993. See Matter of Wong, 10 Mass. Att'y. Disc. R. 291 (1994). Wongís suspension resulted from his felony conviction for receiving stolen property. His first application for reinstatement was denied on December 2, 1997 on findings that he failed to sustain his burden of demonstrating any of the three elements required for reinstatement. Matter of Wong, 13 Mass. Att'y. Disc. R. 854 (1997).

Wong filed the present petition for reinstatement on or about December 6, 1998 and submitted a new reinstatement questionnaire on or about September 12, 2000. The hearing on the petition was held on January 8, 2001 before Steven P. Sabra, Chair and John O. Mirick and Robert J. Guttentag, panel members. The panel heard testimony from the petitioner only and received documentary evidence including, but not limited to, deposition transcripts and tax returns.

Bar Counsel filed an assented to Motion for an Extension to File Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law which was allowed to March 26, 2001. On or about March 26, 2001, Bar Counsel filed a Motion to Reopen. The basis for the motion to reopen was a new complaint filed regarding the Petitionerís representation of a client at three closings in 1986. Bar Counselís motion to reopen was allowed. The matter was set down for further hearing on May 14, 2001. On or about May 10, 2001, petitionerís counsel filed a motion to dismiss Bar Counselís request to reopen, or, in the alternative, to continue the hearing. As a result of petitionerís Motion, the matter was continued. On June 21, 2001, Bar Counsel filed a motion to continue the further hearing on Mr. Wongís petition and to stay proceedings until after the Bankruptcy Court held a hearing in October 2001. Bar Counsel cited Ravech v. Wong, Bankruptcy Court No. 98-2155, the trial of which was set for October 26, 2001. Bar Counselís motion was allowed. On December 2, 2001, petitionerís counsel indicated that the adversary complaint in the bankruptcy court had been dismissed and that there were no other outstanding matters to be addressed at hearing. Bar Counsel filed another motion for extension on February 12, 2002 to file Request for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. No objection was filed to the motion and same was allowed. On May 1, 2002, petitionerís counsel forwarded a letter to the panel requesting a decision on the petition for reinstatement. By cover letter dated May 14, 2002, Bar Counsel filed its brief and Request for Findings and Rulings. Petitioner's counsel, to date, has not filed a brief or a Request for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

II. Background Facts

Wong was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1981. In 1992, Wong was convicted after a jury trial in New Hampshire of a felony of receiving stolen property. Wong received a suspended sentence and was placed on probation for two years on April 28, 1992. The conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire in 1993. On June 13, 1992, the Supreme Judicial Court entered a judgment suspending Wong from the practice of law for a period of three years from January 1, 1993.

Wongís first petition for reinstatement was filed in November 1995. A hearing panel of the Board recommended reinstatement with conditions. The Board rejected the hearing panelís recommendation indicating that Wong had not met his burden of demonstrating the requisite competency and learning in the law. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the Board and denied the petition for reinstatement by order entered December 2, 1997. The Supreme Judicial Court did allow Wongís motion for leave to be engaged as a clerk or paralegal assistant subject to conditions.

III. Findings and Conclusions Pertaining to the Reinstatement Petition

On a petition for reinstatement, the petitioner bears 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 3:01, ß1.3; S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß18(5). Matter of Cappiello, 416 Mass. 340, 9 Mass. Atty. Disc. R. 47 (1993); Matter of Waitz, 416 Mass. 298, 9 Mass. Atty. Disc. R. 336 (1993) . In evaluating a petition for reinstatement, the true test must always be the public welfare. Matter of Waitz, supra. The panel concludes that, in this case, the petitioner has not met his burden on each of the requisite criteria.

A. Moral Qualifications

Evidence on moral qualifications was sketchy at best. Although the petitioner testified that he contributed to his church and did repairs for the church, there was no other testimony or documents to support this claim. The petitioner failed to present any testimony from any church member or even a letter from the church regarding his contributions and/or repair work.

The petitioner also offered evidence that he volunteered at his sonís boy scout troop but this participation appears to be more for the benefit of his own son rather than for the troop at large.

B. Learning in the Law

As is the case regarding the petitionerís evidence concerning moral character, Wongís evidence of learning in the law is weak at best. Wong still has not taken any formal legal education course and simply states that he had read various conveyancing books and magazines.

The petitioner has done some work as a paralegal. However, the petitioner failed to present any evidence corroborating his claim regarding his work as a paralegal, i.e. testimony from a lawyer at the hearing or at least a letter attesting to the work performed and the manner in which it was performed.

C. Standing of the Bar and Public Interest

The only testimony at the hearing was from the petitioner. Although there was no opposition to the petition for reinstatement, there was also no support. For example, there are no letters from any attorneys, bar associations, community leaders, business people, or the like. As Bar Counsel stated, the petitioner did not offer a single character witness, either in person or through letters or affidavits.

Bar Counsel also cites the lack of candor of the petitioner. As noted by the Board of Bar Overseers at the petitionerís reinstatement hearing in 1997, there was evidence that the petitioner gave false testimony to the Brookline Rent Control Board in 1992. In that proceeding, the petitioner testified that he continued to reside in a rent control apartment four years after the house in which he currently resides had been purchased. The hearing office specifically found that the petitionerís testimony was contrary to the facts.

IV. Ultimate Conclusions and Recommendation

For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the petitioner, Allan Yon Kwong Wong, has not met his burden of showing that he has the moral qualifications required for admission to practice law; the competency and learning in law required for admission; and that his resumption of practice would be detrimental to the integrity or standing of the bar, the administration of justice or the public interest. We therefore recommend that the petition for reinstatement be denied.

Steven P. Sabra, Chair
John O. Mirick
Robert J. Guttentag

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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