Saturday, November 22, 2008

In re Abbott 437 Mass. 384, 772 N.E.2d 543 (2002).

Derrick Gillenwater's case against Jeffrey Denner was scheduled for a pretrial last week. The case is still apparently pending. I have not seen Derrick's blog reappear so I assume that Denner and his boys still have the judge on their side to get a gag order in a civil case. If the things I've found out about Denner -- a lawyer whom I largely respect -- are online (and they are) then why in the hell cannot Derrick Gillenwater use his First Amendment Rights to discuss them? There's no national security risk involved in this case.

There's something fishy in Denmark, Hans.

Then again it looks like there was something fishy with Denner's conduct in the case of In re Abbott, 437 Mass. 384, 772 N.E.2d 543 (2002) as well. Same inability to monitor the actions of an attorney who worked for him. The attorney Denner was supervising never even filed the man's appeal, and Denner failed to cover for him.


The following facts are drawn from the committee's findings which were adopted by the appeals panel and the board.

Abbott was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth on January 12, 1983, and from 1983 to 1995 worked as a sole *387 practitioner with a concentration in criminal appellate work.FN3 Between 1990 and 1991 Abbott rented space from Attorney Jeffrey Denner in his Newton office and occasionally performed work for Denner as an independent contractor. On or about March 23, 1991, Atehortua retained Denner to represent him in an appeal from his conviction of trafficking in cocaine. Denner was to be paid $9,000 to review the transcript and materials related to Atehortua's trial and evaluate whether there were any issues worthy of appeal. Denner would then be paid an additional $9,000 for preparing the appeal if meritorious issues were found.

Bar counsel commenced disciplinary proceedings against attorney. A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, Cowin, J., issued order suspending attorney from the practice of law, and attorney appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court, Cordy, J., held that: (1) attorney was given adequate notice of charges against him; (2) bar counsel had no obligation to interview attorney's witness; (3) attorney's rights to confrontation and due process were not violated when hearing committee admitted client's videotaped deposition in lieu of his live testimony; (4) substantial evidence supported findings that attorney failed diligently to pursue postconviction relief for his client, intentionally misrepresented the status of the case to bar counsel, misrepresented the contents of a document to his client to induce him to sign it, and fabricated evidence to mislead bar counsel; and (5) attorney's misconduct warranted suspension from the practice of law for a period of two and one-half years.



FN2. Abbott had been previously admonished by the Board of Bar Overseers (board) for similar unprofessional misconduct in 1989 when his failure to file an appellate brief in a deportation matter caused his client's appeal to be dismissed. This conduct violated S.J.C. Rule 3:07, Canon 2, DR 2-110(A)(2), as appearing in 411 Mass. 1318 (1992), and S.J.C. Rule 3:07, Canon 6, DR 6-101(A)(2) & (3), as appearing in 382 Mass. 783 (1981), and was considered as an aggravating factor in the board's recommendation of discipline in the current matter.

Denner apparently did a good job defending Boston cop Carlos Pizarro on a drug distribution case. Maybe he did too good a job. Maybe he had to offer up Derrick to repay for his due diligence in Pizarro; maybe he pissed off somebody and had to get into a quid pro quo situation. That would be interesting, wouldn't it.

Offering up Derrick Gillenwater as a sacrificial lamb.

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