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Three prominent Boston lawyers face disbarment for laying a Byzantine plot to squeeze a judge’s former law clerk for evidence of bench bias in a legal feud over control of a $2 billion supermarket fortune. The attorneys, Richard K. Donahue Sr., Gary C. Crossen and Kevin P. Curry are preparing briefs due next month to appeal findings by M. Ellen Carpenter, a special hearing officer for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers who recommended their disbarment. The trio allegedly engaged in a ruse to offer the law clerk, Paul M. Walsh, a job in order to get the goods on his former boss, who, they believed, nursed an animus toward their clients. “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,” wrote Carpenter, a partner at Roach & Carpenter and president of the Boston Bar Association. Donahue, a director and former head of Nike Inc., and advisor to President John F. Kennedy; Crossen, a former state and federal prosecutor; and Curry, a former assistant attorney general and veteran litigator, had each been retained in matters relating to the complex of litigation arising from the Demoulas family feud over the Demoulas Super Markets Inc. fortune. Carpenter’s findings are the result of charges the Board of Bar Overseers filed against Curry, Crossen and Donahue in February 2002. The U.S. attorney’s office had dropped its investigation of the men on related issues the year before. Her report detailing the lawyers’ efforts in the summer of 1997 to use Walsh-a law clerk at the trial of one of the Demoulas cases-to confirm their suspicions that presiding Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Maria I. Lopez was biased against one Demoulas brother and his family has the flavor of a John Grisham novel. “They confected a foreign business, printed fake business cards, established a bogus London address, and set up a working London telephone number answered by an operator with an English accent,” to give Walsh the impression that an international company was courting him, Carpenter wrote. They lavished the young lawyer with “flattering attention and perquisites . . . including cash, stretch limousines, luxury hotels and flights to Halifax [Nova Scotia] and New York,” tailoring the job from his r�sum� to appeal specifically to him, she said. “In effect, Curry” and several private eyes, “with assistance from Crossen and Donahue, constructed a Potemkin village to gull Walsh into believing he was about to land the job of his dreams,” Carpenter wrote. She said the lawyers wanted to exploit the “na�vete” of a young lawyer trying to impress a prospective employer to get hard, cold evidence of his former boss’s purported bias. The Massachusetts appeals courts have affirmed Lopez s Demoulas rulings. In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari to the losing Demoulas faction, which had sought review on the ground that she had been too biased to handle the case. Demoulas v. Demoulas, 428 Mass. 555 (1998). Facing recall in 2003, Lopez resigned from the bench over her handling of a criminal case involving a child sexual assault. Donahue’s lawyer, Richard W. Renehan of Boston’s Goulston & Storrs, said that “[w]hen the evidence is fairly reviewed we believe it will be clear that he had nothing to do with deceiving a law clerk and that everything he did was consistent with fair advocacy.” Crossen’s lawyer, Thomas R. Kiley of Boston’s Cosgrove, Eisenberg and Kiley said that Crossen and the others did nothing more than serve their clients’ best interests, and that he expects them to be vindicated. Carpenter acknowledged several times in her decision that the lawyers were acting on Walsh’s information that Lopez was predisposed against their clients, Kiley said. Kiley disputed Carpenter’s view that Crossen “eschewed the legitimate avenues” of handling his clients’ grievance against Lopez by not filing a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC) nor petitioning the chief justice of the superior court to supervise an inquiry into Walsh’s supposed statements. “The CJC cannot do anything with respect to the relief sought, and the avenue of going to the chief justice is a fiction-it simply does not exist,” Kiley said. Curry’s lawyer, Terry P. Segal of Duane Morris’ Boston office, said that “[t]here’s substantial difference of opinion as to whether the conduct was unethical.” He noted that rather than a typical disbarment in which a lawyer steals a client’s money, “this [case] is about advocacy on behalf of a client.”

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