In Boston, a tale worthy of Grisham

A hearing officer for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has recommended disbarment for three well-known lawyers accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to discredit a former Superior Court judge, the Boston Globe reports today.

As the Globe article reports, the three were accused of breaching ethical rules by luring the judge’s law clerk with a fake job offer and then threatening his career if he did not cooperate in their effort to prove that the judge was biased against their clients.

One of the three lawyers is a former assistant to President Kennedy who has been president of the state bar association, chairman of its Committee on Professionalism, chairman of the Board of Bar Overseers and president of Nike Inc. Another was formerly ethics counsel to Massachusetts governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office and chair of the state Judicial Nominating Commission.

The hearing officer wrote:

“I have found no case anywhere that deals with facts remotely like those at issue in this sordid affair, [leaving] 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.”

Before it takes effect, the hearing officer’s recommendation has to be approved by the Board of Bar Overseers and then a single Supreme Judicial Court justice (SJC Rule 4:01). The three lawyers said that they expect to appeal the recommendation.

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