August 10, 2010
False Statements In Lawyer's Own Divorce Lead To Suspension
A proposed public reprimand was rejected as unduly lenient by a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The misconduct involved dishonest behavior in the attorney's own divorce. This summary sets forth the facts:
The Board found that [the attorney] committed three acts of misconduct, all related to her divorce proceeding. First, she made handwritten suggested revisions to a letter to her husband's attorney drafted by her employer...which caused [the employer] to revise an accurate description of her compensation arrangement with him (that they had a verbal agreement by which he would pay her, over and beyond her weekly draws, fifty percent of the net fees she generated) to an inaccurate description (that, apart from her weekly draws, she may receive bonuses in his discretion, and that there was no specific method of determining how much he would pay her in bonuses). Second, the financial statement she filed in her divorce action left blank the line where she was asked to state her gross yearly income in 2003. As a result, she failed to reveal that her gross income had increased from $55,302.58 in 2002 to $126,365.40 in 2003. Third, despite this material omission, when asked by the judge at the hearing in the Probate and Family Court on February 10, 2004, whether she had "accurately and completely" stated her income, expenses, assets, and liabilities on the financial statement, she answered under oath, "To the best of my knowledge, yes." When she was then asked whether she had "fully and completely disclosed [her] financial circumstances and resources to [her], husband," she again replied, "To the best of my knowledge, yes.
A three-month suspension was imposed. (Mike Frisch)
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