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OOrder (public reprimand) entered by the Board July 25, 2001.


On January 31, 2001 the respondent contacted an Assistant District Attorney and informed her that one of his clients had defaulted on January 29, 2001. The respondent expressed concern that the $1000 bail that was posted by the client’s mother would be forfeited, and asked if he could bring the matters forward on February 1, 2001, to continue the cases and address the issue of the forfeited bail. After discussion, the respondent and the ADA agreed to continue the cases until March 16, 2001.

On February 1, 2000 the respondent went to the District Attorney’s Office and asked a secretary in that office whether the files had been sent over to the court in light of the agreement to continue the matter to March 16, 2001. He was told that the ADA had already marked her files with the new date.

The respondent then proceeded to the criminal clerk’s office and was handed the files to bring to the main courtroom. The respondent intended to ask the judge to revoke the bail forfeiture and continue the matters to March 16, 2001..

On the way to the main courtroom the respondent met a court officer and asked him to bring the files into that courtroom. The officer brought the files to the main courtroom and left them on the clerk’s desk with other files, assuming that they would be noticed. The main session was then moved to a different courtroom. The respondent waited in this second courtroom for his case to be called. It never was. He then proceeded back to the main courtroom and found the files on the corner of the clerk’s desk.

In frustration, the respondent marked on the original docket sheets, "3/16/01 CFP", meaning that the cases were continued to March 16, 2001, for pretrial. The respondent also crossed out the entry "default/warrant; do not release" that had been stamped on the docket sheet of one of the cases. The respondent then brought the files to the room where court papers are returned after court action.

After the respondent left, the clerk checked the warrant management system and discovered that, although the case had a new hearing date, the default warrant had not been recalled pursuant to usual court procedure. The clerk notified her superiors. An investigation ensued.

On February 5, 2001, the respondent admitted his actions to the First Justice of the Fall River District Court and explained that he had acted out of frustration, that his purpose was to prevent a bail forfeiture in the cases, and that he was motivated by concern for his client’s mother who was in no position to forfeit the bail.

The respondent’s altering of court documents was conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and reflecting on his fitness to practice law, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d) and (h). However, his intent was to assist a person of limited means. He was not motivated by personal gain and no ultimate harm resulted. In aggravation, the respondent has a prior admonition for unrelated misconduct.

This matter came before the Board on July 11, 2001, on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand. The Board accepted the parties’ recommendation and imposed a public reprimand.

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

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