Mass.gov
   
Mass.Gov home Mass.gov  home get things done agencies Search Mass.Gov


BARBARA DOUKA

No. BD-96-070

SUMMARY

This matter came before the Court on an affidavit of resignation and a recommendation by the Board of Bar Overseers for the respondentís disbarment upon her resignation based on three counts of misconduct, as follows.

Count I. The respondent was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1993 and practiced in association with another lawyer. In 1994, the respondent was certified by the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) to accept assignments as appointed counsel in care and protection cases. As of the summer of 1995, she had accepted appointments in 19 such cases.

During the summer of 1995, the respondent left the law office shared with her associate and, without leave of court or notice to her clients or opposing counsel, repeatedly failed to appear at scheduled hearings in three cases in which she was appointed counsel of record. Thereafter the respondent did not reply to inquiries by the court and by CPCS about her failure to appear. In September 1995, CPCS suspended her from accepting new assignments, reassigned her pending cases to other attorneys, and so notified the respondent. The respondent failed to reply to follow-up CPCS inquiries and was permanently suspended by CPCS from accepting assignments as appointed counsel in March 1996.

By neglecting her assigned cases and clients, by ceasing representation without notice or authorized withdrawal from employment, and by failing to fulfill her obligations as appointed counsel, the respondent violated Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(5) and (6), Canon Two, DR 2-110(A)(1)-(2), and Canon Six, DR 6-101(A)(3).

Count II. Unbeknownst to the respondentís associate, the respondent took two blank checks from the associateís IOLTA account when she left their office in the summer of 1995. The respondent was never a signatory to that account. In late March 1996, without the associateís knowledge, authority or permission and without any right or entitlement to funds then on deposit in the IOLTA account, respondent made out both of the IOLTA checks she had previously taken to her own order, one for $1,800 and the other for $2,785, and signed the associateís name as the maker on each check. On about April 1, 1996, the respondent negotiated both checks at her own bank, applied the proceeds of the checks to her own benefit, and thereby intentionally misused a total of $4,585 with the intent to deprive the owner or owners of those funds at least temporarily.

The two IOLTA checks were transmitted by the respondentís bank to the associateís bank for collection on about April 2, 1996. The first check for $1,800 was paid and debited against the IOLTA account. The second check for $2,785 was dishonored for insufficient funds. The associate was notified of the dishonored check. Upon inquiry to his bank, the associate then learned of the respondentís presentment and negotiation of both checks, confronted the respondent, and demanded restitution of $1,800 for the funds she had received on payment of the first IOLTA check. The respondent deposited $1,800 to the IOLTA account on April 9, 1996.

By wrongfully taking, drawing, signing, and negotiating the IOLTA checks, and by converting the proceeds of those checks to her own use, the respondent violated Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(4) and (6).

Count III. In May 1996, Bar Counsel commenced an investigation of both matters described above and so notified the respondent. The respondent failed to reply to Bar Counselís inquiries during June and July 1996, and failed to appear or otherwise comply with a subpoena duces tecum served on her in August 1996. In November 1996, after Bar Counsel filed a petition for enforcement of the subpoena, the respondent was ordered by a Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to appear and produce all documents under subpoena. The respondent failed to comply despite notice and actual knowledge of the order. As a result, Bar Counsel petitioned the Court for the respondentís immediate temporary suspension from practice based on her failure to comply with the Courtís order or cooperate in the investigation. The respondent was served with an order of notice issued by the Single Justice for her appearance at a hearing on the petition, but she failed to appear at the scheduled hearing. On January 17,1997, the Court entered an order for the respondentís immediate temporary suspension from practice. Among other things, the order required the respondent to file an affidavit of compliance by January 31,1997. The respondent received notice of the order and had actual knowledge of its requirements by late February 1997. Nevertheless, despite repeated subsequent requests and demands by Bar Counsel, the respondent failed to file her affidavit of compliance until early June 1997, and she never produced any records under subpoena.

By failing to comply with orders entered by the Supreme Judicial Court, failing to comply with the subpoena duces tecum, and failing to cooperate in Bar Counselís investigation, the respondent violated Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(5), and S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ßß 3 and 17(6).

On February 2, 1998, Bar Counsel filed a petition for discipline alleging the foregoing misconduct. The respondent submitted her affidavit of resignation under S.J.C. Rule 4:01, ß 15, including an acknowledgment of the truth of Bar Counselís allegations, on February 23, 1993. The Board voted to recommend that the respondentís affidavit of resignation be accepted, that an order of disbarment be entered retroactive to the date on which she compiled with the order of temporary suspension, and that the affidavit not be impounded. On April 30,1998, the Court, Ireland,J., entered a judgment accepting the affidavit of resignation, disbarring the respondent retroactive to June 3, 1997, the date of her compliance with the temporary suspension order, and specifying that the affidavit not be impounded.





BBO/OBC Privacy Policy. Please direct all questions to webmaster@massbbo.org.
© 2001. Board of Bar Overseers. Office of Bar Counsel. All rights reserved.