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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2002-5



IN RE: JOHN A. JAMES, JR.

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board March 7, 2002.

SUMMARY1


In April 1998, the respondent was the closing attorney for a lender in the refinance of the client's home (“1998 closing”). At that time, the title search revealed that a mortgage discharge from a 1993 refinance had not been recorded (“1993 discharge”). The respondent was not the closing attorney for that 1993 refinance. The respondent did not inform either the title insurer or the lender that the 1993 discharge had not been recorded. The respondent did confirm by telephone prior to the 1998 closing that the prior mortgage had, in fact, been paid in 1993. Following the 1998 closing, the respondent used closing proceeds to pay an existing mortgage and obtained a discharge. The respondent, however, did not record that discharge upon receipt.

Between June of 1999 and January of 2000, the client made numerous calls to the respondent requesting that the respondent record discharges for the two mortgages. In January of 2000, the client informed the respondent in writing that the respondent’s failure to record the two mortgage discharges caused the denial of the client’s application to refinance at a lower interest rate. The respondent did not record the two discharges until October 2000, after the client filed a complaint with Bar Counsel. Further, the respondent initially failed to reply to Bar Counsel’s inquiries, necessitating the issuance of a subpoena to compel his appearance.

The respondent’s two-year delay in obtaining and recording two mortgage discharges in connection with a 1998 real estate refinance violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1 and 1.3. The respondent’s failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel’s investigation violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g) and Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, § 3.

In an unrelated case, the respondent had represented a client in litigation that had concluded several years earlier. On July 18, 2000 the client requested in writing that the respondent return her files. Successor counsel also requested the files from the respondent on numerous occasions. On September 21, 2001, approximately fourteen months after the client had initially requested the files and after the client filed a complaint with Bar Counsel, the respondent delivered the files to successor counsel’s office.

The respondent’s fourteen-month delay in turning over the client’s files violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(e).

In aggravation, the respondent has a prior admonition from 2000 for inadequate record keeping and failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel.

The respondent received a public reprimand for the above violations.

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



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