Former Ethics Counsel Disbarred Over Investigation of Judge
Posted Feb 6, 2008 2:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Two Massachusetts lawyers, including the former ethics counsel for two state governors, were disbarred today because of their aggressive investigation of a judge who ruled against their clients in 1995 in a high-profile family battle over control of a supermarket chain.
The efforts of Gary C. Crossen and Kevin P. Curry to prove bias by then-Superior Court Judge Maria Lopez went far beyond the boundaries of permissible legal advocacy, the state's highest court found. For example, the two—with the help of a prominent lawyer who earlier accepted a three-year suspension—lured the judge's clerk out-of-state with a fictitious job offer and then grilled him about her conduct, reports the Boston Globe.
Under threat of potential bar disciplinary action, the clerk caved in to their demands that he sign critical statements about Lopez that, as the court says in a written opinion, he otherwise wouldn't have made.
“Crossen's conduct was so egregious and extensive that no reasonable attorney could have believed it comported with the solemn ethical obligations of attorneys," writes Chief Justice Margaret Marshall in a Supreme Judicial Court opinion disbarring him. "This was not conduct on the uncertain border between zealous advocacy and dishonorable tactics. ... The scope of this misconduct has scant parallel in the disciplinary proceedings of this Commonwealth."
Meanwhile, Curry, she writes in a separate opinion, "engaged in egregious, multiple, and prolonged violations of the disciplinary rules prohibiting attorneys from acts of deceit and dishonesty."
A former federal and state prosecutor, Crossen also served as ethics counsel to two state governors and at one time chaired the state Judicial Nominating Commission. He declined to comment to the newspaper, saying that he was unaware of the disbarment.
Curry, who is a Boston attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: "Crossen, Curry disbarred by SJC"
Boston Magazine: "The Demoulas Trap"
Boston Globe: "Disbarment urged for 3 in scheme"