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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2007-2



MICHAEL Ge WINBOURNE

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board January 18, 2007.

SUMMARY1


The respondent received a public reprimand for the conduct described below.

In November 2004, the respondent was appointed by the Probate and Family Court as financial trustee of a special needs trust on behalf of an adult of diminished capacity. An attorney who had previously performed services that benefited the ward claimed entitlement to legal fees and on December 7, 2005, obtained an order from the Court allowing his claimed fees and ordering the respondent, in his capacity as trustee, to pay the debt. In December 2005 and January 2006, prior counsel repeatedly wrote and called the respondent in an effort to collect his fee, but the respondent did not respond. Prior counsel filed a complaint for contempt against the respondent and the matter was marked for hearing on February 22, 2006. The respondent entered the return date incorrectly in his diary and, as a result, he did not appear and was found in contempt of court with a review scheduled for March 29, 2006. On March 20, 2006, the respondent finally complied with the court order by paying the debt. The respondent apologized to the Court and the contempt was purged.

In March 2006, after receiving communication from prior counsel and before the respondent paid the debt, bar counsel initiated an investigation. The respondent failed to timely reply to bar counselís inquiries necessitating the issuance of a subpoena to compel his appearance. The respondent did not comply with the subpoena nor appear as required, resulting in his administrative suspension from the practice of law pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01 ß #3(2). The respondent was reinstated to the practice of law within thirty days of his suspension. Once reinstated, he cooperated fully with bar counsel. At all times, the respondent properly maintained his wardís assets.

The respondentís failure to comply with an order of the court until after he was found in contempt was conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d). The respondentís failure to cooperate with an investigation of bar counsel was in violation of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß #3 and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g).

This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand. The Board accepted the partiesí 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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