The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently entered an order suspending an attorney for violations of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. In the Matter of Priscilla F. Arnott, an attorney was retained by the children of an elderly woman to obtain MassHealth Benefits on her behalf. After the attorney prepared and submitted an application for benefits, MassHealth requested that she provide additional information within two weeks. The attorney failed to meet the deadline and the application was denied. The attorney appealed the denial but still did not provide the requested information. Therefore, her appeal was denied and the attorney subsequently missed the deadline to vacate the dismissal.
The attorney again promised the children that she would provide MassHealth with the requested information but she never did. The children then did not hear from the attorney for over one month and retained new counsel. The Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”) commenced an investigation into the conduct of the attorney in the MassHealth matter and later administratively suspended the attorney for failing to cooperate with the investigation. Notwithstanding her suspension, the attorney still continued to practice law.
After concluding its investigation, the BBO found that the attorney did not comply with several of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. First, her failure to exercise diligence in the MassHealth matter and her failure to communicate with the children was a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. Rules 1.1, 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4(a). Second, her failure to cooperate with the BBO in its investigation was a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. Rules 8.1(b) and 8.4. Lastly, her failure to comply with the suspension was a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. Rules 3.4(c), 5.5(a), 8.4(d), 84(h), and SJC Rule 4:01 § 17.
The BBO recommended a six-month suspension. The SJC accepted the recommendation and entered an appropriate Order.