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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Public Reprimand No. 2008-2



LEONARD NICHOLAS MANCUSO

Order (public reprimand) entered by the Board January 22, 2008.

SUMMARY1


On or about April 24, 2003, a defendantís family members retained the respondent to represent the defendant on serious criminal offenses pending in superior court. The respondent charged and was paid a flat fee in the amount of $15,000 for his legal services which included disposition of the pending matters, post conviction motions and representation at any hearings before the parole board if the defendant were to be convicted.

At the time that he was retained, the respondent informed the defendantís family members that he did not have an office telephone. He provided them with his mobile telephone number as a means of contact. The respondentís mobile telephone was frequently out of service due to billing disputes with his mobile telephone service provider. The respondent was aware of the problem with his telephone service, but did not make adequate efforts to correct the problem or to provide the defendant with a reliable telephone number.

On or about February 2, 2005, the defendant pled guilty to the pending charges and was sentenced to nine to thirteen years at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction with five years probation from and after. Both before and after the guilty plea, the defendant and his family members made attempts to reach the respondent by telephone in order to discuss the criminal case, but they were unable to speak with the respondent because the respondentís telephone was frequently not in service. When the defendant or his family members were able to connect with the respondentís mobile telephone, they left messages for the respondent on his voice mail requesting that the respondent return their calls, but the respondent frequently failed to do so.

On or about February 4, 2005, the defendant wrote to the respondent and requested that the respondent visit him at the prison where he was incarcerated to discuss post-conviction remedies. The defendant also requested that the respondent file a sentence appeal and a motion to revise and revoke his sentence. On or about February 9, 2005, the respondent filed a motion to revise and revoke the sentence that the defendant received, but did not notify the defendant that he had filed the motion or send a copy of the motion to the defendant. The respondent also did not did not visit the defendant at the prison or otherwise communicate with the defendant.

Between April and December 2005, the defendant sent four more letters to the respondent requesting that the respondent visit him and requesting that the respondent provide him with a copy of his file for the defendantís case. The respondent still did not reply to the letters, send a copy of the file or visit the defendant at the prison.

Between March 2005, and November 2005, the defendant filed several pro se post-conviction motions including a motion to revise and revoke his sentence, a motion for appointment of appellate counsel, motions for free transcripts and a motion to vacate his guilty plea. The court denied all post-conviction motions without a hearing, including the motion to revise and revoke that had been filed on February 9, 2005, by the respondent.

In or around December 2005, the defendant wrote a letter to the Board of Bar Overseers describing his difficulty in contacting the respondent and requesting assistance in obtaining his file On or about December 20, 2005, an attorney from the Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program at the Office of Bar Counsel attempted to contact the respondent without success at the telephone number provided by the respondent to the registration department of the Board of Bar Overseers as both his home and business number. The telephone was the same mobile telephone number that he had provided to the defendant and was not in service. The respondent did not provide either the defendant or the Board with his only telephone number that was reliably operational, namely his home landline number.

The Office of Bar Counsel sent a copy of the defendantís complaint and file copy request to the respondent at his home on or about January 4, 2006, but the respondent did not provide the defendant with a copy of his file until on or about June 21, 2006.

By failing to provide his client with a reliable telephone number, and failing to reply to the clientís letters or to otherwise adequately communicate with the client, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 1.4. By failing to timely provide his client with a copy of the clientís file, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(e). By failing to provide the Board of Bar Overseers with a valid telephone number, the respondent violated Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:02 (1) and Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, ß 3(1).

The respondent was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth on June 20, 1983. In aggravation, he received an admonition in 2002 for failure to communicate with a client, failure to fulfill a contract of employment, failure to refund the unearned portion of his legal fee and failure to cooperate with bar counselís investigation (AD-02-49, 18 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 729 (2002).

The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and a joint recommendation for discipline. The Board of Bar Overseers accepted the partiesí recommendation and imposed a public reprimand on January 14, 2008.


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



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