Massachusetts: Worcester lawyer suspended for 5 months; was disciplined when he was a Mendon policeman

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Attorney Walckner started his legal career in true lawyer fashion - LYING when submitting his Bar Application. What is the penalty for being a proven liar to practice law? Apparently 5 MONTHS, how reassuring for the public.

Massachusetts: Worcester lawyer James A. Walckner suspended for 5 months; was disciplined when he was a Mendon policeman

WORCESTER – The law license of James A. Walckner, a Worcester attorney admitted to the bar in 2012, has been suspended for five months, the Board of Bar Overseers announced in a news release, after a judge found Walckner knowingly made a false statement of material fact in his application to the bar.

According to a memorandum of decision included with the release, Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice David A. Lowy determined Walckner omitted information about discipline he had received as a police officer in Mendon.

After a hearing, the Board of Bar Overseers recommended Walckner be suspended for one month, but Judge Lowy, citing “lack of candor” on behalf of Walckner at the proceeding, instead imposed discipline of five months.

According to the record, when asked on the bar application whether he had been disciplined in any profession or as a holder of public office, Walckner answered “No.”

But the bar said Walckner had been disciplined twice as a police officer – a one-day suspension after allegedly making “two serious, unsubstantiated accusations against two fellow officers,” and a four-day suspension for alleged insubordination and sleeping on the job.

According to the decision, Walckner argued that he did not disclose the discipline because he interpreted the question “not to require disclosure of all workplace discipline.” He argued that, because an earlier question had also asked about his employment, he interpreted the question to apply to “external professional licensing or regulatory authorities.”

Lowy noted that the Board of Bar Overseers committee that recommended the one-month suspension had “flatly” rejected the argument and determined that Mr. Walckner displayed a “lack of candor” during the hearing. However, the Board of Bar Overseers considered as a mitigating factor an argument by Walckner that he had acted as a whistleblower in his department.

Walckner was one of two Mendon police officers who went to state police in 2013 to report concerns about the department’s lieutenant and police chief.

The lieutenant, Donald Blanchette, admitted sufficient facts existed to find him guilty of seven charges, including three felony counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, in 2014. He received probation and was allowed to return to work with a demotion after an internal probe deemed his actions “really more a case of bullying.”

The police chief, Ernest Horn, was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation conducted by a special police officer with whom he was friends and who had worked for his municipal consulting company. Horn retired in January 2017; multiple lawsuits are pending against him and the department related to alleged turmoil during his tenure, including one filed by Walckner.

In Walckner’s case, the Board of Bar Overseers determined the whistleblowing to be a mitigating factor, but Lowy ruled it was not sufficiently tied to the issue at hand.

“However commendable (Walckner’s) whistleblowing activities may have been, substantial acts of community or public service neither excuse professional misconduct nor mitigate the appropriate sanction in the absence of any causal connection,” he wrote.

Roy A. Bourgeois, Walckner’s Worcester attorney, noted Thursday that the suspension has nothing to do with Walckner’s performance as a lawyer.

“We accept the judgment of the single justice, but we point out that Jim has had an unblemished career as a lawyer,” Mr. Bourgeois said.

According to the March 27 suspension order, Mr. Walckner cannot accept new cases during suspension, but may “wind up and complete” any matters pending with current clients.

Source: Milford Daily News

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