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In re Dwyer-Jones

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

February 5, 2015

In the Matter of Suzanne T. Dwyer - Jones

Argued October 6, 2014

Information filed in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on May 16, 2012.

A petition to transfer to disability inactive status was heard by Gants, J.

Order affirmed.

Thomas R. Kiley for the respondent.

John W. Marshall, Assistant Bar Counsel.

Present: Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.

OPINION

[24 N.E.3d 567] Spina, J.

We consider in this case whether an attorney who has been suspended from the practice of law in another jurisdiction based on mental health conditions or substance abuse is subject to reciprocal transfer to disability inactive status in Massachusetts without a separate hearing in Massachusetts to determine her incapacity. See S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 13 (1), as amended, 435 Mass. 1302 (2002). We conclude that she is.

Page 583

1. Background.

The respondent, Suzanne T. Dwyer-Jones, has been admitted to practice in both Maine and Massachusetts. On March 25, 2013, a final hearing [24 N.E.3d 568] was held before a single justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on a petition filed by the Maine board of overseers of the bar for suspension of the respondent pursuant to Me. Bar R. 7.3(e)(2)(B). That rule permits the board to file a petition directly with the court where it is alleged that " the continued practice of [an] attorney poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public," id., because the attorney is " incapacitated from continuing practice by reason of mental infirmity or addiction to drugs or intoxicants." Me. Bar R. 7.3(e)(2)(A). After the hearing, at which the respondent was both present and represented by counsel, the Maine single justice found that the respondent " is afflicted with a substantial proclivity for substance abuse and a very serious mental health condition." He stated:

" [T]he combined effects of these conditions clearly produced a substantial incapacity that adversely impacted [the respondent's] ability to practice law and resulted in a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public. Indeed, ... she was essentially unable to manage her own affairs, let alone the complex matters involved in the representation of others. The court finds that the incapacitating symptoms of these conditions remain essentially as florid today as they were during the last two years. Accordingly, the court hereby orders that [the respondent] be suspended from the practice of law in the State of Maine."

Considering that the " issues of the duration and conditions of the suspension are conjoined with [the respondent's] insight into her medical conditions and the progress she has made to manage them," the Maine single justice imposed a ...


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