Two lawyers were disbarred today by Massachusett’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.’ ‘’