Petitioner: David D. Curtin, Esq. Disciplinary Counsel
Respondent: George Philip, Pro Se
matter is before the Court pursuant to a petition for
reciprocal discipline filed by this Court's Disciplinary
Counsel in accordance with Article III, Rule 14 of the
Supreme Court Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. The
respondent, George Philip, was admitted to the practice of
law in this state on November 24, 1997, and is presently an
active member of the bar. He was also admitted to the
practice of law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
January 12, 2016, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial
Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts entered an order
disbarring the respondent from the practice of law in the
Commonwealth effective February 12, 2016. A certified copy of
that order was forwarded to counsel on February 9, 2016. Rule
14, entitled "Reciprocal discipline, " provides, in
"(a) * * * Upon notification from any source that a
lawyer within the jurisdiction of the [Disciplinary] Board
has been disciplined in another jurisdiction, Counsel shall
obtain a certified copy of the disciplinary order and file it
with the court."
February 16, 2016, Disciplinary Counsel filed a copy of the
order with this Court along with a petition requesting that
we impose reciprocal identical discipline in this state. On
the following day, the respondent notified this Court and
Disciplinary Counsel that he had filed an appeal to the full
Supreme Judicial Court and that his appeal had been docketed.
Accordingly, we issued an order to the respondent directing
him to show cause why reciprocal discipline should not be
imposed in this state, but deferred his obligation to do so
pending the resolution of his appeal.
September 15, 2016, the respondent's appeal was dismissed
due to his failure to timely file a brief and/or appendix.
The respondent took no further action to pursue his appeal.
We directed the respondent to appear before this Court at its
conference on December 15, 2016, to show cause why identical
reciprocal discipline should not be imposed. He appeared
before us, pro se, and advised the Court that he had
no objection to the imposition of identical reciprocal
discipline. However, he requested that he be given a brief
period of time to notify his clients and arrange for new
counsel for them before any such order becomes effective.
facts giving rise to the respondent's disbarment in the
Commonwealth are briefly summarized as follows. In late 2008, the respondent was involved
in a group drive of automobile enthusiasts in Massachusetts.
Tragically, the driver of the vehicle immediately in front of
the respondent's vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian.
The respondent was a potentially necessary witness in any
future civil or criminal action that could ensue from this
incident, and may also have been subject to possible civil
liability due to his participation in the group drive.
these glaring conflicts, the respondent offered to provide
legal representation to the other driver, and failed to
obtain his informed consent to the conflicts. The other
driver was subsequently criminally charged for his actions
leading to the death of the pedestrian. The respondent, who
had limited experience representing defendants in criminal
cases, provided woefully inadequate legal representation,
including improperly advising the client and failing to
timely obtain an opinion from an accident reconstruction
expert. Moreover, the respondent made misrepresentations to
the client regarding the nature of his legal fee, payments to
the expert, and the payment of fees to co-counsel. The
respondent intentionally misused approximately $17, 500 that
he had obtained on behalf of the client. He also entered into
an improper business arrangement with this client relating to
an agreement to repair and either lease or rent the
Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers and the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the respondent's
conduct violated a host of the Rules of Professional conduct,
including, but not limited to Rules 1.1 (competence): 1.3
(neglect); 1.5 (excessive fees); 1.7 and 1.8 (conflicts);
1.15 (safekeeping client funds); and 8.4(c)
(misrepresentation). Our review of the record supports those
conclusions, and we concur with Disciplinary Counsel's
recommendation that identical reciprocal discipline is
the respondent, George Philip, is hereby disbarred from the
practice of law in this state, effective thirty days from the
date of this order.
Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, ...