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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

PUBLIC REPRIMAND NO. 2001-20



IN RE: JAMES R. ROSENCRANZ

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board October 30, 2001.

SUMMARY1


The respondent received a public reprimand for the conduct described in a four-count petition for discipline. The respondent neglected two matters for one client, failed to pay two court-ordered judgments, and failed to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation, necessitating the issuance of two subpoenas.

Count One of the petition for discipline arose from the respondentís neglect of two personal injury cases for a client. The first case was dismissed in April 1998 for failure to answer interrogatories. In August 1998 the respondent filed a motion to remove the default. Although the motion was allowed, the clientís discovery was limited to deposing the defendant; the defendant had no similar limitations. The respondent took other steps on behalf of the client, including preparing and submitting to opposing counsel an opposition to summary judgment, but he did not file any additional documents with the court, and neither he nor the client appeared for a pretrial conference scheduled in March 1999. The case was dismissed for failure to prosecute in April 1999. The respondent took no action to reinstate the case, did not inform the client of the dismissal, and did not respond to repeated inquiries from the client regarding the status of her case.

In the clientís second case, the respondent filed suit in March 1999 on the eve of expiration of the statute of limitations. Thereafter he failed to make service and the case was dismissed in June 1999 for that reason. The respondent took no action to reinstate the case, did not inform the client of the dismissal, and did not respond to repeated inquiries from the client regarding the status of her case.

In January 2000 the client complained to the Office of Bar Counsel in an effort to obtain the return of her files. In or about March 2000, the client learned that both cases had been dismissed. The client retained successor counsel, who was successful in having both cases restored to active status. Both cases subsequently settled.

The respondentís failure to file answers to interrogatories and failure to appear for a pretrial conference in the first case, his failure to make service in the second case, his failure to respond to the clientís request for updates on the status of her cases, and his failure to seek relief from the dismissals is conduct in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4(a).

Counts Two and Three of the petition for discipline arose from the respondentís failure to pay two court reporters. In Count Two, the respondent believed he was being overcharged, and refused to pay the court reporterís bill. In March 2000 the court reporter filed suit against the respondent in district court. The respondent did not defend and a default judgment entered. When the respondent did not pay the judgment, an order to show cause issued. The respondent did not pay the judgment and in July 2000 a capias issued. The respondent did not comply with the court-ordered judgment until September 2001, after the court reporter had complained to the Office of Bar Counsel.

In Count Three, the respondent believed that there was an understanding that the client would pay the court reporterís bill. The client did not pay, and in January 2000, the court reporter filed suit against the respondent in district court. Although the respondent filed an answer, he failed to appear for hearing, and a default judgment entered. When the respondent did not pay the judgment, an order to show cause issued. The respondent did not pay the judgment, and in December 2000, a capias issued. The respondent did not comply with the court-ordered judgment until September 2001, after the court reporter had complained to the Office of Bar Counsel.

The respondentís failure to appear in court and to comply with court orders in Counts Two and Three is conduct in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d) and (h).

Count Four of the petition arose from the respondentís failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation of the matters described in Counts One, Two, and Three, necessitating the issuance of two subpoenas. The respondentís conduct in this respect is conduct in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g) and Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß 3.

The respondent was admitted to practice in 1978. In aggravation, the respondent received an admonition in 1995 for delay in settlement of his clientís medical bills, failure to communicate with the client, and failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel. In mitigation, the respondent suffers from depression, for which he has been in treatment since July 2000. In addition, for a period between December 2000 and the spring of 2001 the respondent was the primary person responsible for the care of his elderly mother during her recuperation from an injury. In connection with the disposition of this matter, the respondent agreed to carry malpractice insurance for the next three years.

The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation that the respondent receive a public reprimand. On October 15, 2001 the Board adopted the partiesí recommendation.

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



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