Boston: judge in the dock
Judge Raymond Dougan confirmed the pro bono work in a mandatory report to the Supreme Judicial Court and the State Ethics Commission, in a revelation raising concerns over judicial conduct.
The firm, Boston-based Foley Hoag, consists of lawyers often appearing in the city’s courts, according to the Boston Globe newspaper. And the free legal services provided to Judge Dougan during the two-year investigation could violate judicial conduct rules banning judges from receiv¬ing gifts from law firms whose lawyers have or are likely to appear before them. State ethics law also bars public officials from accept¬ing most gifts.
Boston lawyer Michael Mone – a partner at Esdaile Barrett Jacobs & Mone -- frequently represents judges before the Commission on Judicial Conduct. He told the newspaper: ‘My interpretation of the law is that in representing individual judges, you cannot make that a gift.’
Judge Dougan has declined to comment, but his lawyer, Michael Keating – a Foley Hoag partner and chairman of the firm’s litigation department – said: ‘As a private lawyer, I decide how much to charge my clients. Over the years, I have done a great deal of legal work pro bono or at reduced rates. That work has ¬included conducting investigations of judges, without compensation, as special counsel to the Judicial Conduct Commission.’
Mr Keating added that his firm’s arrangement with the judge did not violate any ethics rules, because neither he nor any of the lawyers who worked on the case had appeared before Judge Dougan.
However, former executive director of the Commission on Judicial Conduct Jill Pearson told the Globe that judges cannot get free lawyers to represent them in misconduct investigations.
‘The judge pays his lawyer his full, usual fee… It would be misconduct for a judge to pay any less, as that would constitute an improper gift from the lawyer to the judge,’ said Ms Pearson – who retired last April – adding that she was speaking generally.
If the ethics commission finds that Judge Dougan – once called ‘Judge Let Me Go’ by one criminal defendant -- has violated conflict-of-interest rules, it could fine him up to $10,000 for each instance and force him to pay the legal bill. The Judicial Conduct Commission may also implement its own penalties.