442 Mass. 1037 (2004), SJC-09131, In re Daniels

Docket Nº:SJC-09131
Citation:442 Mass. 1037, 817 N.E.2d 333
Party Name:In The Matter of Alfred C.W. Daniels.
Case Date:November 05, 2004
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 1037

442 Mass. 1037 (2004)

817 N.E.2d 333

In The Matter of Alfred C.W. Daniels.

No. SJC-09131

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

November 5, 2004.

Wayne S. Henderson for the respondent.

Constance V. Vecchione, Assistant Bar Counsel.

Rescript Opinions.

Alfred Daniels seeks reinstatement to the bar following expiration of a three-year suspension imposed on him effective March 31, 1998. His suspension arose not from the practice of law but from financial difficulties encountered by an aerospace company over which he assumed management control in the early 1980's. In an effort to keep the company operating, Daniels ran afoul of the State's wage laws and Federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act requirements. The company eventually failed. Daniels lost his home and, as the responsible corporate officer, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in State and Federal courts. As a result of these convictions, he also assumed various restitution obligations, and was suspended from the bar. Circumstances presented to the Board of Bar Overseers (board) at the time of the suspension mitigated against a more severe sanction.

Upon the filing of his petition for reinstatement, a hearing panel of the board received testimony from Daniels and many other witnesses regarding his good character, legal competence, and the contributions made to his community during the period of suspension. In October, 2002, the panel recommended that Daniels be reinstated. 1 Prior to the board's acting on the panel's recommendation, bar counsel moved to reopen the hearing on the ground that the petitioner had engaged in the "unauthorized practice of law" during his suspension.

The hearing was reopened and evidence was presented that in late October, 2002, after the panel had recommended his reinstatement, Daniels had acceded to the urgent request of a friend of twenty years to assist him in the preparation of a family trust prior to the friend being admitted to a hospital for emergency surgery. 2 The assistance was provided without the expectation or receipt of compensation, and the friend was fully cognizant of Daniels's status as an attorney suspended from the practice of law.

The panel declined to decide whether Daniels had engaged in the "practice of law," and instead simply concluded that "[he] should have realized that someone might interpret it as such." In light of this "lapse...

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