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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-1999-054


S.J.C. Order of Disbarment Vacated and Order of Reinstatement entered by Justice Cordy on October 15, 2009.1


On July 19, 1999, John Moran was found guilty of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The tortuous history of motions and appeals that followed is fully set forth in the parties' briefs and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say, based on these convictions, Moran was eventually disbarred by this court on April 5, 2007, retroactive to April 3, 2003, the date of his temporary suspension. In re John M. Moran, 23 Mass Att'y Discipline 483 (2007).

On March 31, 2009, a judge of the United States District Court ordered a new trial based on his finding that Moran had been deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that the interests of justice required it. Thereafter, on September 10, 2009, the United States Attorney elected not to proceed "in view of the passage of time . . . , the death of one of the government's primary witnesses, and other considerations," and dismissed the indictments. Moran therefore petitions that the order of disbarment be vacated, that he be immediately reinstated to the bar, and that "any other proceedings pending against [him] be terminated."

Bar counsel argues that the disbarment should stand because Moran's convictions were not overturned on grounds of insufficient evidence, and that in any event the evidence, as described in the decisions of the courts that considered his appeals, supports a number of ethical violations in addition to the convictions themselves. In the alternative, bar counsel suggests that the court treat the petition as a petition for reinstatement, subject to the ordinary conditions thereof.

I agree with bar counsel that the mere fact that a conviction has been reversed should not automatically undo discipline that is based in whole or in part on the same episode. However, after reviewing the filings of the parties and the most recent decision of the United States District Court judge, I am of the view that in the circumstances of this case, where the disbarment order was based solely on the fact of the underlying convictions, and the criminal case has now been dismissed, the order should be vacated, and the petitioner reinstated. I do not, however, order that any further disciplinary proceedings be terminated. Bar counsel may pursue such proceedings at her option. Matter of Segal, 430 Mass. 359 (1999) (two-year suspension ordered for lawyer previously acquitted in substantially similar criminal matter).


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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