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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2003-03



IN RE: ELLIOTT FINE

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board April 24, 2003.

SUMMARY1


The respondent received a public reprimand for misconduct in two cases.

In the first matter, a client hired the respondent in the summer of 1997 to cure a defect in the title to her residence. Specifically, when the client purchased the property, a lien had not been discharged and the lienholder thereafter initiated foreclosure proceedings. Although the respondent did some preliminary work on the matter, he failed to reply to many of the clientís communications inquiring about the status of the case and had not resolved the problem as of December 1998. The client therefore discharged the respondent and hired successor counsel, who resolved the outstanding lien at no additional cost to the client.

The respondentís failure to diligently pursue the clientís matter constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3. The respondentís failure to respond promptly to the clientís inquiries constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4.

In an unrelated matter, also in the summer of 1997, the respondent filed a civil complaint on behalf of a client who was seeking to recover a taxi medallion that the client claimed had been fraudulently transferred. On April 2, 1999, the court allowed the defendantís motion for summary judgment over the respondentís opposition, thereby dismissing all counts in the clientís complaint. Subsequently, the defendant served the respondent with a motion for attorneyís fees, arguing that the clientís claims were frivolous. The respondent failed to file an opposition to that motion and judgment entered against the respondentís client in the amount of $8700. The respondent failed either to inform the client of the judgment or to appeal the judgment.

The respondentís failure to appear in court and defend the client constituted inadequate preparation and failure to represent a client diligently in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.1 and 1.3. The respondentís failure to keep the client timely informed of scheduled hearings and court rulings in the litigation constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4.

In addition, the respondent failed to reply to Bar Counselís inquiries, necessitating the issuance in August 2001 of a subpoena to compel his appearance. The respondent did not appear when subpoenaed and accordingly was administratively suspended by the Supreme Judicial Court on September 24, 2001. He thereafter appeared and was reinstated. The respondentís failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation of this matter violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g) and Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß 3.

In aggravation, the respondent had two previous private reprimands for similar conduct, the first in 1988 and second in 1993. In mitigation, the respondent assumed the responsibility of making full restitution for the harm caused by his neglect in the second case.

This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for a public reprimand. On April 14, 2003, the Board of Bar Overseers adopted the partiesí recommendation and approved a public reprimand.

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



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