BBO summary: Feb. 11.


Byline: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

SJC No. BD-2010-109

In the Matter of the Petition for Reinstatement of Leonard N. Mancuso

Hearing Panel report

  1. Introduction

    On October 2, 2017, the petitioner, Leonard N. Mancuso, filed his petition for reinstatement with the Supreme Judicial Court. His indefinite suspension had been entered by the Court on August 9, 2012, retroactive to November 17, 2010, the date of his temporary suspension under SJC Rule 4:01, 12A. Matter of Mancuso, 28 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 598 (2012).

    The suspension was ordered after the petitioner was convicted of a felony (assault with a dangerous weapon) and two other criminal charges (illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition) following a 2010 domestic dispute during which he fired a loaded handgun in the direction of his (then) girlfriend. As a result of the convictions, the petitioner was incarcerated in state prison for nearly three (3) years. The petitioner was released from prison in September, 2013.

    An evidentiary hearing on the reinstatement petition was held January 17, 2018. The petitioner, represented by counsel, testified on his own behalf and called three witnesses: Bruce Freeman, a social worker who has met with and tested the petitioner; Joel A. DeLuca, Esq., a non-practicing attorney who operates the company where the petitioner has been working; and Leo S. Fama, Esq., an attorney who employs the petitioner as a paralegal. Bar counsel called no witnesses. Before the hearing, seven exhibits were admitted into evidence. Bar counsel made no recommendation concerning reinstatement but requested, if the petitioner is to be reinstated, that certain conditions be imposed.

    On January 22, 2018, the panel issued a sua sponte post-hearing order, asking the parties to provide additional documents, including some court transcripts. On February 5, 2018, bar counsel provided some of these materials. On February 21, 2018, petitioner's counsel submitted a status report and some documents. On March 7, 2018, we received a letter from petitioner's counsel, indicating that some of the requested materials would not be available until June. On March 29, 2018, some materials received directly from the trial court on DVD and copies were sent to the parties. This included the petitioner's voluntary statement to the police on September 30, 2010, after he was in custody; we had a certified court reporter prepare a transcript of it. On June 20, 2018, we received copies of the transcripts of the petitioner's 2012 criminal trial. On July 12, 2018, we admitted into evidence the following additional exhibits:

    Ex. 8, February 11, 2005, police report.

    Ex. 9, petitioner's "statement with regard to incident of February 11, 2005."

    Ex. 10, November 11, 2005, police report.

    Ex. 11, tax return for 2007 (Documents produced 2/22/18)

    Ex. 12, The DVD of the petitioner's voluntary statement to the police on September 30, 2010, after he was in custody.

    Ex. 13, The transcript of the petitioner's voluntary statement to the police on September 30, 2010.

    Ex. 14, The transcript of day two (March 6, 2012) of the petitioner's Superior Court criminal trial.

    Ex. 15, The transcript of the petitioner's sentencing hearing, which was day five (March 9, 2012), of the petitioner's Superior Court criminal trial.

    We gave the parties until July 19, 2018, to file anything in response to these additional exhibits. Nothing was submitted.

    After considering the evidence and testimony, the panel recommends that the petition for reinstatement be denied.

  2. Standard

    A petitioner for reinstatement to the bar bears the burden of proving that he or she possesses "the moral qualifications, competency, and learning in the law required for admission to practice law in this Commonwealth, and that his or her resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the integrity and standing of the bar, the administration of justice, or to the public interest." S.J.C. Rule 4:01, 18(5); Matter of Daniels, 442 Mass. 1037, 1038, 20 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 120, 122-123 (2004) (rescript). See Matter of Dawkins, 432 Mass. 1009, 1010, 16 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 94, 95 (2000) (rescript); Matter of Pool, 401 Mass. 460, 463, 5 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 290, 293 (1988). Rule 4:01, 18(5) establishes two distinct requirements, focusing, respectively, on (i) the personal characteristics of the petitioner; and (ii) the effect of reinstatement on the bar and the public. Matter of Gordon, 385 Mass. 48, 52, 3 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 69, 73 (1982).

    In making these determinations, a panel considering a petition for reinstatement "looks to '(1) the nature of the original offense for which the petitioner was [suspended], (2) the petitioner's character, maturity, and experience at the time of his [suspension], (3) the petitioner's occupations and conduct in the time since his [suspension], (4) the time elapsed since the [suspension], and (5) the petitioner's present competence in legal skills.'" Daniels, 442 Mass. at 1038, 20 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. at 122-123, quoting Matter of Prager, 422 Mass. 86, 92 (1996), and Matter of Hiss, 368 Mass. 447, 460, 1 Mass. Att'y Disc. R. 122, 133 (1975).

  3. Disciplinary and procedural background

    The following facts are set forth in the Mass. Attorney Disciplinary Reports: the petitioner's suspension stemmed from his conviction of crimes arising from a domestic dispute. On September 30, 2010, during the course of a heated argument, Mancuso fired a loaded handgun in the direction of a woman he was living with. The woman's teenage daughter was in the home at the time and called the police. On March 9, 2012, Mancuso was convicted in Essex Superior Court on three criminal charges: assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without an FID card, and illegal possession of ammunition. He was sentenced to not less than three years and not more than five years in state prison on the conviction of assault with a dangerous weapon and to concurrent terms of two years' probation on the remaining charges, to commence on and after the state prison sentence. The probation was subject to conditions that Mancuso participate in a batterers' intervention program, remain free of drugs and alcohol and participate in drug and alcohol screening, and engage in a mental health evaluation and screening as directed by probation. He was also prohibited from being in contact with the victim or her daughter.

    Bar counsel and the petitioner (as respondent) filed a stipulation in which he admitted that he...

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