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No. BD 99-061

IN THE MATTER OF RONALD M. BAUGH

ORDER OF DISBARMENT1

SUMMARY

The respondent was an attorney licensed to practice in Missouri. On May 19, 1999, the chief disciplinary counsel for the Missouri bar served on the respondent an information charging the respondent with misconduct.

The Missouri bar alleged that the respondent had been retained in July 1995 to represent an inmate in state post-conviction claims arising from his conviction of second degree murder in Missouri state court. The inmate's mother paid the respondent $6500 for his services.

The respondent failed to maintain reasonable communications with the client or his mother. He performed little or no investigation into the client's case, and he never commenced any post-conviction proceedings in state court, as he was retained to do. Instead, he filed a habeas corpus action in Federal court under the name of a different person, in which he alleged that the client had been convicted of first degree murder. The respondent did not inform the client of the petition until approximately three weeks after he had filed it.

In May 1996, the respondent closed his law office and abandoned his practice. He told the client that he was withdrawing from his case. While he returned some documents to the client, he never returned key documents, including a videotape statement or deposition of the medical examiner, photographs of the crime victim or crime scene, a police report, and certain personal papers of the client. The respondent also failed to return the unearned fee to the client and failed to provide an accounting supporting the fee.

In June 1996, the client complained to the Missouri bar. The respondent then filed a motion to withdraw from the federal habeas action, misrepresenting in that motion that he had previously filed a motion to withdraw and that "'certain elements of the case appeared to not be genuine or authentic.'" The respondent also misrepresented to bar authorities that, although the complainants were "'real,'" other "'materials and/or persons utilized or involved in the case appear to be artificial…'" and that the "'matter cannot be fairly dealt with until these artificial elements are handled.'" Later, the respondent refused to provide information to bar discipline authorities until a non-existent "'criminal investigation'" against him was resolved.

Although he was served by publication and by certified mail, the respondent did not respond to the bar's charges. On July 7, 1999, the Missouri Supreme Court entered an order of disbarment.

On August 27, 1999, Bar Counsel filed in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County a petition for reciprocal discipline. The respondent was served with the petition by first class and certified mail. The respondent did not reply to the petition. On November 9, 1999, the respondent was served with notice of a hearing on November 23, 1999, in the Supreme Judicial Court. The respondent did not appear at the hearing. On November 29, 1999, the Court entered an order of disbarment.

1S.J.C. Order of Disbarment entered by Justice Ireland on November 29, 1999.



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