The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has reversed a lower court ruling granting summary judgment to a law firm, saying the firm had failed to use all measures to combat an erroneous ruling by a French court. The firm, Dechart, had represented a seafood company, whose fishing boat was severely damaged, while undergoing repairs in Tahiti, which is a French protectorate. The French court had given the company an opportunity to submit additional evidence of its losses incurred, but the law firm failed to make the additional submissions, information which it had in its possession.
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.
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 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently held that the simultaneous representation of business competitors by attorneys in different offices of the same law firm does not constitute a per se conflict of interest. In Maling v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, the client hired a law firm’s Boston office to secure patents for his screwless eyeglass invention. After successfully obtaining the patents, the client discovered that the law firm’s Washington, D.C. office represented a competitor seeking a patent for its own screwless eyeglass technology.
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.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“Massachusetts SJC”) has affirmed an order transferring an attorney to inactive status for a period of one year, following a determination by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (“Maine SJC”) that the attorney was unfit to practice law. In the matter of Suzanne T. Dwyer-Jones, the Maine Board of Bar Overseers (“Maine BBO”) alleged that an attorney had substantial mental health and substance abuse problems. Continue reading
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), located in Boston, has suspended an attorney from practicing law after he was convicted of multiple criminal charges. In the matter of Jason K. Betts, an attorney admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty on charges of resisting arrest, violating the conditions of his probation, disturbing the peace, driving under the influence, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Continue reading
The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) in Boston has suspended an attorney from practicing law, following an investigation by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”). In the matter of Lisa Beth Wilkins Baker, an attorney neglected her duties as a guardian ad litem in two client matters, and failed to cooperate with counsel for the BBO during disciplinary proceedings. Continue reading