January 10, 2008
"A Matter of Grace"
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts today affirmed decisions of its Clients' Security Board in two matters, rejecting the contentions of dissatisfied claimants. In the Indeck case, the applicant had been awarded $150,000 after entrusting her life savings of $569,000 to her lawyer. The lawyer had paid back interest of more than $900,000, which the fund treated as a return of principal that mitigated the loss. The court concluded that "board decisions...do not give rise to the substantial injury or injustice necessary for certiorari review." In the Audoire case, the board awarded the claimant over $152,000 but expressly conditioned payment on the execution of an assignment agreement to recoup the payment from a settlement trust set up to compensate the lawyer's victims. The court concluded that the assignment was "not void and contrary to public policy" and was not invalid in light of a contingency agreement between the complainant and her present lawyer. Compensation from the board "shall be a matter of grace, not right..."
This link should take the reader to the court's web page for access to the opinions. (Mike Frisch)
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