The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has adopted the recommendation of a hearing committee, disbarring an attorney for misconduct, mostly having to do with misappropriation of client funds. The attorney, William P. Corbett defended the accusations and the ultimate sanction of disbarment, both factually and on the board’s interpretation of the law.
A Massachusetts attorney has been suspended indefinitely as the result of two claims of misconduct, including falsifying information to the FBI and forging real estate documents. Specifically, in April of 2006 and January of 2007, the attorney met with FBI agents and alleged that his bank had “misdirected” approximately $88,000 from his account. The attorney furnished several documents to the FBI, which were found to have been fabricated. The attorney pleaded guilty to criminal charges for this misconduct on October 29, 2007, and was sentenced to two years probation, which he failed to disclose to bar counsel, as required under S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 12(8) and Mass. R. Prof. Conduct 8.4.
A client signed a fee agreement with an attorney for representation in her divorce. On June 26, 2013, as a condition of the signed fee agreement, the client tendered to the attorney $8,000.00 as a retainer for a divorce case and for a real estate closing. Upon receipt of the check, the attorney deposited the funds into her Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts (“IOLTA”).
The following day, the attorney withdrew $5,500.00 and used it for purposes unrelated to the client. At this time, the attorney had neither earned this money, nor sent a bill to the client. Over the next month, the attorney continued to withdraw funds from the IOLTA until the account balance was approximately $1,000.00.
In early December 2013, the client terminated the attorney-client relationship. At the time of termination, the attorney had spent all but $500.00 of the money she had withdrawn, failed to provide the client with an accounting of the funds and did not return the $500.00 for several months.
The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”) has issued public admonition against an attorney for failing to obtain a former client’s consent before representing a new client in a substantially related matter adverse to the former client. In Admonition No. 15-23, the attorney had been employed by the law firm for eight years. During this period, the firm represented the former client’s spouse, seeking modification of a divorce based on allegations of child abuse. The attorney did not directly represent the spouse, but was consulted on a financial issue in the case.
The attorney left to start his own firm, and several years later, was retained by the former husband to defend new allegations of sex abuse a civil matter filed by his ex-wife. The attorney advised him of his firm’s prior representation of the ex-wife, but forgot that he had been personally consulted on the case, and also failed to obtain the ex-wife’s consent to represent her ex-husband.
The ex-wife informed the attorney of the conflict of interest and requested that he withdraw as counsel, but the attorney refused. Counsel for the ex-wife then filed a Motion to Disqualify, which the Court granted.
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 Supreme Judicial Court recently denied the application of a prospective attorney for admission to the Massachusetts bar on the basis that she lacked sufficient moral character. In the matter of Malgorzata Chalupowski, a woman, who had passed the Massachusetts bar exam, submitted an application to the Board of Bar Overseers, seeking to be admitted as an attorney in the state. The Board requested a meeting with the woman to discuss several disclosures contained in the application.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently denied a prospective attorney’s application for admission to the bar on the grounds that he was not morally fit to practice law in the Commonwealth. In the case, In re: Chankrakant Shridhar Panse, an individual passed the state bar exam and submitted an application to be admitted as an attorney.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (“SJC”) has recently reversed a lower court’s decision to sanction a Massachusetts attorney. In Gary Wong v. George V.H. Luu, the parties were attempting a settle several consolidated cases regarding the sale of three supermarket stores in Boston. However, shortly before the parties were scheduled to finalize a settlement agreement, an attorney representing several creditors involved in the lawsuit sent solicitation letters to other unsecured creditors of the supermarket.
The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently accepted the resignation of a Massachusetts attorney, who misappropriated proceeds from the sale of real estate. In the matter of John H. Wyman, an attorney was hired to probate a will, which stated that real estate owned by the decedent was to be devised to a Florida charity. The charity informed the attorney that it wished to sell the property and use the proceeds to further its charitable mission.
The Supreme Judicial Court has recently disbarred a Boston, Massachusetts. In the matter of Kirk Y. Griffin, an attorney admitted to using client funds for personal expenses over a period of eight years. After learning of the attorney’s conduct, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”) initiated an investigation and then filed a petition for discipline against the attorney.