The Story of the Demoulas Fortune and the Judge’s Clerk

by Lee Gesmer on July 11, 2005

Yesterday’s masters of the universe are today’s cosmic dust.
Anon
_____________________

What Were They Thinking? A case that has received enormous attention in Massachusetts is the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers investigation into the activities of several attorneys for the defendants in the Demoulas case, a state court case involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty surrounding the ownership of a large New England supermarket chain.

The case itself was a legal odyssey, spanning years and numerous state court decisions, but it is the aftermath of the litigation that stunned lawyers in Massachusetts and around the country. The losing defendants, dissatisfied with the decision of State Superior Court Judge Maria Lopez (who has since resigned in ignominy over a criminal molestation sentencing fiasco) and suspecting bias on her part, concocted a charade intended to induce the judge’s then law-clerk to disclose the inner workings of the judge’s chambers while the case was in litigation, and presumably prove that the judge’s clerk, rather than the judge herself, wrote the final (and most important) decision in the case.

The saga of how Gary Crossen (then of Foley, Hoag & Eliot, and former ethics counsel to two Massachusetts Governors), Richard Donahue (a former President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, chair of its Commission on Professionalism and President of Nike, Inc.), and Kevin Curry, (a former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General), lured the judge’s former law clerk out-of-state in order to tape record his “confession,” attempted to bully him into signing an affidavit, conducted surveillance on him, and more, is described in agonizing detail in the 229 page decision. As a fan of hard-boiled detective novels (including Boston’s current claim to fame, Dennis LeHane, author of Mystic River and other engrossing works), I can only say that in Boston, reality is stranger than fiction.

After years of hearings and delays Bar Counsel issued her decision recommending the “ultimate sanction,” disbarment of all three attorneys. Her decision is now working its way through the Board of Bar Overseers and will ultimately be in the hands of a single Justice of the State Supreme Judicial Court. The consensus in the community appears to be that bar counsel’s decision will be followed.

Once again, we ask, “what were they thinking”? Even if the Demoulas lawyers had established that the Judge’s clerk had “done it” (written the fatal decision, that is), so what? What would they have done with that information? Used it as a basis to attack the integrity of the decision? Hardly a winning strategy.

  • You can read the case here

Previous post:

Next post: