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No wonder the public hates lawyers

This is the most amazingly shady thing I’ve ever seen lawyers do. A pox on Foley Hoag.

On the dark side are: Gary Crossen, an attorney with Foley, Hoag & Eliot (who hilariously served as ethics counsel to two of Massachusetts’ former Republican 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. (source). Hereinafter, these three shall be referred to as “The Filthy Three.”

On the other side, Paul Walsh, the clerk for a judge in a case over the DeMoulas supermarket empire. At stake, $1 Billion.

The Filthy Three were in danger of losing their case, so they desperately started digging for dirt on the Judge. To do so they targeted the judge’s clerk, Walsh. They figured out that Walsh was looking for an international business job, so they lured Walsh to Nova Scotia with promises such employment. Why Nova Scotia? Tape recording someone surreptitiously is illegal in Massachusetts. After jerking him around for a year or so, the Filthy Three let Walsh in on the scheme. There was no job for him, the job didn’t even exist, and if he didn’t cooperate they would ruin his career.

Curry, Crossen, and Donahue wanted to show that former Superior Court Judge Maria Lopez was biased during the long, legal battle over the Demoulas family supermarket fortune. The trio allegedly engaged in a bizarre plot to lure Walsh, the law clerk, into confirming their theory. According to Carpenter’s ruling, Curry originated the ruse, and Crossen and Donahue joined in. Walsh was presented with a bogus job offer. He traveled to fake job interviews in Nova Scotia, Manhattan, and Boston, and was secretly taped. The goal was to extract information about Lopez and then use it to undermine the decision. After the lawyers allegedly revealed their true motives to Walsh and threatened to disclose embarrassing information about him, he went to the FBI. FBI agents persuaded him to wear a wire and secretly tape-record conversations with the lawyers.

Here is one exchange, taped at the behest of the FBI:

Walsh: ”I still don’t understand why you didn’t call me up . . . it just doesn’t seem right, it just doesn’t seem fair to me. You know, I sat there with you through the whole trial and I felt I got to know everyone in the court room and I think you know that you . . . coulda called me up.”

Crossen: ”Well, you may not like the way we approached this, but we were stuck.”

Walsh: ”Damn right.”

Crossen: ”Well, that’s life in the fast lane, Paul, and I’m sorry about that.”(source)

Walsh went to the FBI, and the Filthy Three managed to evade conviction.

The US Justice Department investigated the case, but did not seek indictments. The cream of Boston’s political and legal community went to bat, especially for Crossen, a former prosecutor, former chairman of the state Judicial Nominating Commission, and former ethics counsel to governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci; and for Donahue, a former chairman of the Board of Bar Overseers and onetime assistant to President Kennedy. Said lawyer Harry L. Manion, who represented Walsh: ”I saw the amount of political and legal firepower Donahue and Crossen mounted . . . it left Paul Walsh and I breathless.”(source)

While Richard K. Donohue, a lawyer that should have known better, expressed concern over the shady practices, he didn’t put an end to them. His disgusting excuse is reproduced below:

Big money was on the table. “We have a client and the client wants to proceed and it’s necessary to at least pay some attention to the client,” Donahue later said. “Otherwise, you won’t have any.”

This should be a warning to any of you who might one day play the “so what if it is a bit unethical, my client wanted me to” game.

Make sure you’re sitting down when you read it.

Then, if you want to know what trash looks like, look here.

And what happens to trash? It gets kicked to the curb.

The key component of the disbarment decision:

[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 is one of the many reasons why I am very proud to be a member of the Massachusetts Bar. Mass. doesn’t tolerate this kind of unethical and unprofessional behavior. Of course, I am disgusted at every lawyer who went to bat for The Filthy Three. Crossen, Donohue, and Curry belong in prison. At least they’ve lost their law licenses, but I’m certain that they still get to use their political connections and accumulated wealth to live lives of relative luxury and privilege.

One question I have is this: If this is the time they got caught, how many other times did they behave this way? I’d like to see a full investigation into their entire careers. Of course, Foley Hoag has the juice to put a stop to that, so there is no sense in even starting one.

Note: Mr. Walsh, the protagonist in this story, was not 100% springtime fresh in this matter. He made a little bit of a mistake on his bar application, submitting a letter of recommendation from someone who represented that they were acquainted, but they weren’t. See Order at p. 8.

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