Demoulas Disbarments

by Lee Gesmer on November 3, 2006

Two updates:

First, I learned today (12/11/06) that the hearing officer in this case, Ellen Carpenter, tragically passed away at the age of 52.

Second, Boston Magazine alerted me to an article discussing the Demoulas/Law Clerk scandal. If you want a quick summary of the case, Boston Magazine-style, click here for The Demoulas Trap:

Secret tape recordings. Clandestine meetings. Fake identities. Nothing was off-limits when supermarket tycoon Telemachus Demoulas’s desperate legal team hatched its plan to squeeze Paul Walsh. A billion dollars was at stake in the nastiest civil court case in state history, and the lowly court clerk was an easy mark. Until he decided to fight back.

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On October 16, 2006, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers issued its long-awaited decision in the Demoulas attorney misconduct case, essentially affirming the hearing officer (Ellen Carpenter) in her decision recommending disbarment of three Massachusetts lawyers. The BBO accepted the recommendation of the hearing officer and ordered the disbarment of two of the attorneys (Gary Crossen and Kevin Curry), and ordered that the third attorney, Richard Donahue, be suspended for three years.

The three attorneys now have one more shot at vindication, before the Supreme Judicial Court. Don’t hold your breath.

I discussed this matter in some detail a six months ago in one of my first “what were they thinking” blogs.

I quote from the final paragraph of the BBO’s decision, which says it all.

[The publicity associated with this case] has taken an ugly toll on the public’s perception of the legal profession and those who practice it. By their conduct, as the hearing officer observed, [Crossen, Curry and Donahue] have “brought shame and disrepute upon the bar. They have left what one can only hope is not an indelible impression that lawyers, even very prominent ones, will do almost anything to prevail if enough money is at stake and available for their use.” . . . We wholeheartedly agree.

This case (both the original Carpenter decision and the BBO decision) offer a clear look at the sordid underbelly of the legal profession. John Grisham only wishes that he could have come up with a plot this bizarre. The BBO and hearing officer’s decisions should be read by the public, and should be mandatory reading for attorneys.

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