March 4, 2010
Husbands And Wives
A recent disciplinary case is summarized on the web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers:
On February 1, 2008, a husband filed through counsel a complaint for divorce in which he sought custody of the couple’s minor children and child support. After being served with a copy of the divorce complaint, the husband’s wife consulted with the respondent regarding representation in the divorce matter.
The respondent had in May 2007 represented the husband for a period of time in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims arising from a work-related accident. In connection with that representation, the respondent had obtained medical and other treatment records for the husband.
On February 8, 2008, the respondent sent a fax to the husband’s divorce counsel stating that he would be representing the wife in the divorce matter. Later that same day, the respondent notified the husband’s lawyer that he would not be representing the wife due to his prior representation of the husband.
On February 12, 2008, the respondent met with wife and, without the husband’s permission, gave her the husband’s medical and treatment records as information relevant to the husband’s request for custody. The respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.6(a) and 1.9 (c) by disclosing the medical and treatment records to the wife without the husband’s consent. The wife’s lawyer did not review the records or use them to the husband’s disadvantage, and the records were returned to the husband’s divorce lawyer.
The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and a joint recommendation that the respondent receive a public reprimand. The Board of Bar Overseers accepted the parties’ recommendation and imposed a public reprimand on December 14, 2009.
The case is Matter in Horrigan, decided on January 8, 2010. (Mike Frisch)
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