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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2002-3



IN RE: GERALD S. SHULMAN

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board on January 29, 2002.

SUMMARY1


On July 29, 1998, the respondent commenced a small claims action in the district court against an individual (the wife) for unpaid medical services in the amount of $300.00.

On October 9, 1998, the respondent filed a separate claim against the husband in the same court. The complaint was for services rendered on an account annexed for unpaid medical services in the amount of $2,405.52. On December 10, 1998, after a contested hearing, the respondent obtained a judgment against the wife in the amount of $314.00.

On March 12, 1999, the claim against the husband was scheduled for a case management conference. The respondent wrote to the court and requested a continuance because of another commitment. The husband assented to a continuance. The court rescheduled the matter for April 23, 1999. However, the respondent did not receive notice of the rescheduled date and did not appear at the conference. The husband did appear at the conference and the court dismissed the case, without prejudice.

As of April 1999, the husband had made two payments to the respondent. The first payment was in the amount of $10.00 and was credited to the account of the wife, as directed. The second payment of $20.00 was made in April 1999, but the husband did not specify or provide instruction as to whose account the payment was to be credited. The respondent’s firm credited the payment to the husband’s account as was its right, although the husband assumed and intended that the payment be credited to his wife’s account.

In December 1999 the respondent commenced a supplementary process case against the wife and on December 27, 1999, served a summons. On December 28, 1999, the husband wrote to the respondent to protest, among other matters, that the respondent had the balance wrong in his summons. The husband added in his letter, “…you strike me as a dead beat [sic] attorney representing a dead beat [sic] doctor.” In his letter, the husband enclosed a check for $274.00 representing his calculation of the balance due on his wife’s account. The husband concluded his letter by stating that he intended to be in touch with the Board of Bar Overseers regarding the respondent’s “lack of honesty as an attorney.”

On January 6, 2000, the respondent responded to the husband’s letter of December 28, 1999. In his letter, the respondent argued that he had calculated the balance correctly, being unaware at this time that the husband thought that the second payment had been credited to his wife’s account and not to his account. He further stated that he resented being called a deadbeat and irresponsible attorney. The respondent concluded his letter as follows:

I am a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and any course of action with the Board of Bar Overseers will only result in personal litigation against you. I could see your point if I failed to act in accordance with the Mass. District Court Rules of Procedure, but this is not the case. I do not appreciate being sent letters like this and strongly recommend that you do not send a letter to the B.B.O. as this would be an attack on my integrity as an Attorney and I will not stand for it.

The respondent was in fact a special assistant attorney general, but his appointment had absolutely nothing to do with the collection matters described above.

The respondent’s conduct of threatening litigation as a consequence of filing a complaint with Bar Counsel and his unwarranted use his official position to avoid a complaint to the Board of Bar Overseers, was in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (d), and (e).

The parties stipulated that the appropriate sanction was a public reprimand. On December 17, 2001, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to adopt the parties’ stipulation and proposed sanction. On January 30, 2002, the respondent received a public reprimand.

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



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