Finneran could resume legal work
Former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran should be able to resume practicing law in January, according to a decision issued Monday by a three-member panel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
Finneran, who is now a talk-show host on WRKO-AM, was suspended from the practice of law in January 2007 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges for lying in court about his role in crafting a 2002 redistricting plan on Beacon Hill. After his conviction, Finneran was placed on 18 months of unsupervised probation and received a fine of $25,000. He resigned his job as president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.
Constance Vecchione, the bar counsel for the Board of Bar Overseers, recommended the former speaker be disbarred and not allowed to practice law again. Finneran had sought a one-year suspension of his license to practice law.
The panel said there were numerous mitigating circumstances that argued for a lesser punishment. For example, the panel said Finneran had accepted personal responsibilty for his offense and was distracted at the time of his court testimony by his own severe hip pain and concerns about his wife, who was undergoing knee surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"These were factors that diminished his ability to focus on that testimony and impaired his judgment," the panel wrote in its decision.The three-member panel wrote there was no evidence to support Vecchione’s conclusion that Finneran "was racially biased or racially insensitive in his public life." The panel also said a lesser punishment was warranted because Finneran did not commit his crime while acting as a lawyer or while trying to conceal a crime or seek personal gain.
The recommendation of the three-member panel now goes to the full Board of Bar Overseers for action. Once the full board makes its recommendation, it goes to the Supreme Judicial Court for action.