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NO. BD 99-032

IN RE: GEORGE E. KERSEY

Last known office address:
P.O. Box 836
Lynnfield, MA 01940-2383

ORDER OF TERM SUSPENSION

This matter came before the Court, Ireland, J., on an Information and Record of Proceedings and the Vote and Recommendation of the Board of Bar Overseers filed by the Board on May 12, 1999. Upon consideration thereof, it is ORDERED that:

1. GEORGE E. KERSEY is hereby suspended from the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a period of three months. In accordance with S.J.C. Rule 4:01, Sect. 17(3), the suspension shall be effective thirty days after the date of the entry of this Order. The lawyer, after the entry of this Order, shall not accept any new retainer or engage as lawyer for another in any new case or legal matter of any nature. During the period between the entry date of this Order and its effective date, however, the lawyer may wind up and complete, on behalf of any client, all matters which were pending on the entry date.

It is FURTHER ORDERED that:

2. Within fourteen (14) days of the date of entry of this Order, the lawyer shall:

a) file a notice of withdrawal as of the effective date of the suspension with every court, agency, or tribunal before which a matter is pending, together with a copy of the notices sent pursuant to paragraphs 2(c) and 2(d) of this Order, the client's or clients' place of residence, and the case caption and docket number of the client's or clients' proceedings;

b) resign as of the effective date of the suspension all appointments as guardian, executor, administrator, trustee, attorney-in-fact, or other fiduciary, attaching to the resignation a copy of the notices sent to the wards, heirs, or beneficiaries pursuant to paragraphs 2(c) and 2(d) of this Order, the place of residence of the wards, heirs, or beneficiaries, and the case caption and docket number of the proceedings, if any;

c) provide notice to all clients and to all wards, heirs, and beneficiaries that the lawyer has been suspended; that he is disqualified from acting as a lawyer after the effective date of the suspension; and that, if not represented by co-counsel, the client, ward, heir, or beneficiary should act promptly to substitute another lawyer or fiduciary or to seek legal advice elsewhere, calling attention to any urgency arising from the circumstances of the case;

d) provide notice to counsel for all parties (or, in the absence of counsel, the parties) in pending matters that the lawyer has been suspended and, as a consequence, is disqualified from acting as a lawyer after the effective date of the suspension;

e) make available to all clients being represented in pending matters any papers or other property to which they are entitled, calling attention to any urgency for obtaining the papers or other property;

f) refund any part of any fees paid in advance that have not been earned; and

g) close every IOLTA, client, trust or other fiduciary account and properly disburse or otherwise transfer all client and fiduciary funds in his possession, custody or control.

All notices required by this paragraph shall be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, in a form approved by the Board.

3. Within twenty-one (21) days after the date of entry of this Order, the lawyer shall file with the Office of the Bar Counsel an affidavit certifying that the lawyer has fully complied with the provisions of this Order and with bar disciplinary rules. Appended to the affidavit of compliance shall be:

a) a copy of each form of notice, the names and addresses of the clients, wards, heirs, beneficiaries, attorneys, courts and agencies to which notices were sent, and all return receipts or returned mail received up to the date of the affidavit. Supplemental affidavits shall be filed covering subsequent return receipts and returned mail. Such names and addresses of clients shall remain confidential unless otherwise requested in writing by the lawyer or ordered by the court;

b) a schedule showing the location, title and account number of every bank account designated as an IOLTA, client, trust or other fiduciary account and of every account in which the lawyer holds or held as of the entry date of this Order any client, trust or fiduciary funds;

c) a schedule describing the lawyer's disposition of all client and fiduciary funds in the lawyer's possession, custody or control as of the entry date of this Order or thereafter;

d) such proof of the proper distribution of such funds and the closing of such accounts as has been requested by the bar counsel, including copies of checks and other instruments;

e) a list of all other state, federal and administrative jurisdictions to which the lawyer is admitted to practice; and

f) the residence or other street address where communications to the lawyer may thereafter be directed.

The lawyer shall retain copies of all notices sent and shall maintain complete records of the steps taken to comply with the notice requirements of S.J.C. Rule 4:01, Sect. 17.

4. Within twenty-one (21) days after the entry date of this Order, the lawyer shall file with the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County:

a) a copy of the affidavit of compliance required by paragraph 3 of this Order;

b) a list of all other state, federal and administrative jurisdictions to which the lawyer is admitted to practice; and

c) the residence or other street address where communications to the lawyer may thereafter be directed.

5. A petition for reinstatement shall not be accepted for filing until such time as the lawyer has purged himself of contempt in the Vermont courts.

By the Court, (Ireland, J.)

Entered: September 10, 1999

SUMMARY1

This matter arises out of a series of contempts and two arrest warrants issued by the Vermont Family Court during the respondent's personal divorce proceedings. One of the contempt findings resulted in the respondent's arrest and brief incarceration. At the time of the hearing before the Board, one of the contempt orders remained unpurged, and the second arrest warrant was outstanding.

The Family Court's findings included the following:

A finding of contempt for failure to pay a $1,000 sanction imposed for failure to comply with discovery requirements.

A finding of contempt for failure to obey the court's order to disclose his income to his former wife and to pay maintenance. The court found that the respondent had the ability to pay and ordered him arrested and committed to the custody of the sheriff until he paid $4,677.68. After he was arrested, the respondent purged himself of the contempt by paying the overdue maintenance in full.

A finding of contempt in April, 1993, for willful and contumacious failure to comply with orders which required him to provide certain information and documentation to counsel for his former wife. That contempt remains unpurged. A warrant has been issued for the respondent's arrest and is still outstanding.

The Board of Bar Overseers found that the respondent's actions constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(5); conduct which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law, in violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(6); and disregard of the ruling of a tribunal, in violation of Disciplinary Rule 7-106(A).

The Board recommended a suspension of three months. The single justice imposed the recommended suspension, with the condition that no petition for reinstatement be received until the respondent had purged the contempt.

1 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the on the record submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court.



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