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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-96-004

IN RE: MICHAEL J. MUSE

S.J.C. Order of Reinstatement entered by Justice Cheney on July 7, 1999.1

HEARING PANEL'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

I.. INTRODUCTION.

The Petitioner, Michael J. Muse, was suspended from the practice of law for three years on February 1, 1996. The facts leading to the suspension are reported at 12 Mass. Atty. Discipline Reports 335 (1996). In the Order of Suspension, No. 96-004BD, the Petitioner was allowed to seek reinstatement after two and one-half years. On October 6, 1998, the Petitioner filed a Petition for Reinstatement in the Office of the Clerk of Court, Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. He completed the Questionnaire as required by Section 3.62 of the Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers.

On January 5, 1999, a Hearing Panel of the Board of Bar Overseers, consisting of Richard M. Zielinski, Esquire, Chair, Cynthia J. Cohen, Member, and David Rind, M.D., Member, was appointed. The Hearing Panel convened on Monday, February 22, 1999 to hear testimony relative to the Petition for Reinstatement. Michael E. Mone, Esquire represented the Petitioner. Arnold R. Rosenfeld, Bar Counsel, represented the Office of Bar Counsel. The Panel heard testimony from three witnesses, including the Petitioner, and received and considered four exhibits.

II. FINDINGS.

Pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01 § 18(6), the Petitioner has the "burden of demonstrating that he or she has the moral qualifications, competency and learning in law required for admission to practice law in this Commonwealth, and that his or her resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar, the administration of justice, or to the public interest."

In order to fulfill this burden, the Petitioner called two character witnesses: Mr. Tommy Montgomery, President of the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, and Peter O'Neill, Esquire, Director of Education at Local 254, a public employee union. The Petitioner himself also testified.

The panel found the testimony of Mr. Montgomery and Mr. O'Neill credible. Mr. Montgomery, a Boston Police detective, testified that he has known the Petitioner since 1982. The Petitioner had assisted the Boston Police detectives in forming a separate union from the Patrolmen's Association and the Petitioner and his brother, Christopher, had represented the union as General Counsel. The Petitioner was responsible for arbitration, grievances, contract negotiations, disciplinary hearings, and legal advice, generally. Detective Montgomery testified favorably as to the Petitioner's honesty and integrity. He further testified that, after the Petitioner's suspension, his duties changed and he represented the union solely as its legislative agent. He further stated that he would expect the Petitioner to resume his legal duties if he were to be reinstated.

Mr. O'Neill testified that he has known the Petitioner since the 1970's when he worked for the leadership in the State House of Representatives. He also spoke favorably about the Petitioner's reputation for honesty and integrity, as well as his competence in representing his clients in the Legislature.

The Petitioner testified that he is a graduate of Providence College and Suffolk University Law School. He worked primarily in the area of labor law and represented the public employees union and the Boston Police Detectives. He also did other legislative work representing other clients. He testified that during his suspension, he continued to act as a legislative agent, but did no legal work.

The Petitioner addressed the issue of his misconduct by admitting that he had made a number of mistakes. First, he noted that he should not have gotten involved in an area of the law, probate, about which he did not have expertise. Second, he stated that he failed to recognize the conflict of interest in representing both Mrs. Guzelian, his client, and the beneficiaries whom he either represented or worked with in the Legislature. He testified that, in accordance with the Order of the Probate Judge who heard the will challenge case, he repaid all funds with interest. Finally, he testified that his suspension had a profound effect on his life, that he deeply hurt his parents and his family, and that he hoped he could restore his reputation. He also said he hoped he could give something back to the profession he loved.

The Petitioner also testified that he has kept up with developments in labor law and legal ethics through reading Lawyers Weekly, through subscriptions to various labor law journals, and through reading legal memoranda.

The Petitioner also submitted a letter from the Honorable Carol Ball, Justice of the Superior Court, who, in lieu of testifying pursuant to a subpoena, recommended the Petitioner for reinstatement based upon her knowledge of his honesty and integrity.

Bar Counsel presented no witnesses. He stated for the record that he had contacted the attorneys for Patricia McDermott, who had an outstanding suit against the Petitioner for malpractice as a result of losses she suffered in the Guzelian case, and for the sister of Mary Guzelian, and that neither party wished to be heard on the issue of reinstatement. Bar Counsel stated that he had no objection to the Petitioner's reinstatement.

III. RECOMMENDATION

The Hearing Panel finds that the Petitioner has met his burden under Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01 § 18(6). It, therefore, recommends that he be reinstated to the practice of law in the Commonwealth.

Richard M. Zielinski
Cynthia L. Cohen
David Rind, M.D.

Dated: April 21, 1999

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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