Saturday, 2:15 PM
Court disbars two attorneys involved in Demoulas family feud
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff
Two lawyers were disbarred today by the state’s highest court, which ruled that the attorneys violated ethical rules when they tried to find evidence of bias against a former Superior Court judge who was then presiding over the bitter and costly family fight for control of the billion-dollar Demoulas supermarket company.
In bluntly written rulings, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall said the actions of former federal prosecutor Gary C. Crossen and Boston attorney Kevin P. Curry were unprecedented and were also clearly improper and unethical. The attorneys lured a law clerk of then Superior Court Judge Maria Lopez to Canada and New York with a false promise of a job.
They questioned the law clerk, Paul Walsh, repeatedly about Lopez’s actions during the lengthy and bitter feud, tape recorded some conversations, and Crossen insisted that Walsh sign critical statements about the judge or his actions would be disclosed to the Board of Bar Overseers, according to the SJC. Walsh went to the FBI, which chose not to prosecute, but which triggered the BBO investigation and today’s disbarment rulings.
In a decision long awaited by the legal community, Marshall wrote: “Crossen's conduct was so egregious and extensive that no reasonable attorney could have believed it comported with the solemn ethical obligations of attorneys…. This was not conduct on the uncertain border between zealous advocacy and dishonorable tactics.’’
Contacted at his Lexington law office this morning, Crossen said he did not know about the SJC decision. In addition to being a former federal and Suffolk County prosecutor, Crossen is former chairman of the state Judicial Nominating Commission, and former ethics counsel to Governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci.
She also rebuked Curry, who she said got involved in the Demoulas case "with no motive other than his own financial gain.'' She said, "with no evidence, Curry persuaded a group of dissatisfied litigants… that a Superior Court judge had 'fixed' their case, so that it was 'over before it began.’ ‘’
Marshall added that Curry then created an “elaborate subterfuge whose purpose was to induce or coerce the judge's former law clerk into making statements that the law clerk otherwise would not have made about the judge and her deliberative process…. Curry engaged in egregious, multiple, and prolonged violations of the disciplinary rules prohibiting attorneys from acts of deceit and dishonesty.’’
A relative of Curry said he was not available for comment and referred questions to his attorney, Terry Segal of Boston.
In the 1990s, two branches of the Demoulas family waged war over control of the supermarket empire started by two brothers. Lopez’s rulings essentially shifted control from one side of the family to the other and have been affirmed by the SJC in separate rulings.
Lopez herself later stepped down in 2003 after being accused of improper conduct from the bench in an unrelated case.
A third attorney, 80-year-old Richard K. Donahue, in December 2006 accepted a three year suspension from practicing law. Donahue, who is a former chairman of the Board of Bar Overseers, former assistant to President Kennedy, and a onetime president of Nike Inc., helped plan but did not interact directly with Walsh.
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