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IN RE: DIANNE WILKERSON

NO. BD-97-076

SUMMARY1

On December 5, 1997, the respondent was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts of four counts of willful failure to file Federal income tax returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. ß 7203. The respondent was sentenced to twenty-four months of probation with six months to be served in home detention, and she was fined $2,000.

On June 4, 1998, Bar Counsel filed a petition for discipline based on the respondentís convictions, alleging that the crimes were "serious" as defined by S. J. C. Rule 4:01, ß 12, and that the respondentís conduct violation Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(4) and (6). On April 16, 1998, the respondent and Bar Counsel filed a stipulation in which the respondent admitted to the allegations of the petition for discipline and joined with Bar Counsel in recommending a six-month suspension as appropriate discipline. The Board of Bar Overseers adopted the partiesí stipulation by a vote taken on May 11, 1998, and, on June 4, 1998, the Board filed an Information with the Court recommending a six-month suspension.

The terms of the respondentís home confinement required her to be in her home from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. each day of the week. On April 27, 1998, the respondent, a Massachusetts State Senator, sent a handwritten letter to the Federal court requesting permission to attend the annual banquet of the Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The respondent did not send a copy of this letter to opposing counsel. The Federal court denied the request, holding that the 9:00 p.m. curfew "has already taken into consideration the need to carry out [the respondentís] duties as an elected officialÖ.To grant the request would make it appear that [the respondent has] been accorded special treatment because of [her] public position."

Between April 27, 1998, and June 8, 1998, the respondent violated the terms of her probation by attending extended sessions of the Massachusetts Senate. On June 12, 1998, the Federal court found that the respondent had violated the 9:00 p.m. curfew established as part of her home confinement. The court imposed again the term of probation and added the requirement that she serve thirty days in a halfway house.

On June 26, 1998, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County remanded the bar discipline matter involving the respondent to the Board of Bar Overseers for such further proceedings as deemed necessary. On October 15, 1998, following the respondentís waiver of hearing and assent, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County entered an order of temporary suspension. On January 28, 1999, the respondent and Bar Counsel filed a stipulation which proposed a one-year suspension retroactive to the date of the temporary suspension. On February 8, 1999, the Board voted to accept the joint recommendation but to add a condition prohibiting the respondent from filing a petition for reinstatement before the termination of probation in her criminal case. On March 19, 1999, the Single Justice entered an order suspending the respondent from the practice of law for one year retroactive to October 15, 1998, and further ordering that no petition for reinstatement be filed before December 5, 1999, the date of the termination of probation in the respondentís criminal matter.

1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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