Monday, February 22, 2010
A disciplinary summary from the web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers:
On August 12, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a notice of exclusion excluding the respondent...from practice before that Office. The notice was based upon a default judgment finding that the respondent had engaged in misconduct in various patent proceedings before the Office. After bar counsel filed a petition for reciprocal discipline with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, the respondent submitted to the Board of Bar Overseers an affidavit of resignation from the practice of law pursuant to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, §15. In his affidavit, the respondent admitted that the following material facts set forth in the notice of exclusion are true.
From 2002 through 2008, the respondent abandoned twenty-eight patent applications without the consent of his clients and took either no or ineffective actions to revive them. In fourteen of the matters, the respondent failed to notify the clients that he had received from the Patent Office notices of abandonment concerning their patent applications. In seventeen of the matters, the respondent falsely represented to the Patent Office and/or his clients that he had taken various actions on the patent applications. In one of the matters, the respondent failed to deliver to successor counsel material that the former client was entitled to receive.
In mitigation, the respondent asserted in his affidavit that in early 2003 he fell on ice and suffered a left subdural hematoma. While he recovered physically, various subtle mental impairments remained. Tests showed mild atrophy of his brain, symptoms of inattention and executive system compromise and behavioral changes and poor judgment. This led to his neglecting the interests and needs of some of his clients. As a result of his impaired health and advanced age (of seventy-one), the respondent decided to resign from the Massachusetts bar.
On January 11, 2010, the Board unanimously voted to recommend that the Supreme Judicial Court accept the respondent’s affidavit of resignation as a disciplinary sanction. On January 21, 2010, the Court (Gants, J.) entered a Judgment accepting the respondent’s resignation as a disciplinary sanction and striking the respondent’s name from the roll of attorneys.
The case is Matter of Hormann. (Mike Frisch)