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US court clears lawyer of ethics violation

Law firm allegedly filed false affidavit

A federal appeals court has cleared a prominent lawyer in an ethics case in which his Boston law firm was accused of filing a false affidavit in an attempt to get a new judge in a personal injury case.

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Friday cleared Roderick MacLeish Jr. and his colleague, Annapoorni Sankaran, both of the firm Greenberg Traurig, overturning the decision by a federal judge in Rhode Island.

Chief Circuit Judge Michael Boudin wrote in the decision that the affidavit was not knowingly incorrect on the facts, "although one of the statements may well have been factually inaccurate and another was a dubious and unattractive piece of lawyer characterization."

MacLeish became nationally known when he sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on behalf of people who said they were victims of clergy sex abuse.

The two lawyers, as well as Robert A. Sherman from Greenberg Traurig, and Elizabeth McDonough Neenan and Todd D. White from Adler Pollock & Sheehan, of Providence, were also cleared of violating federal civil procedure rules, which prohibit frivolous filings.

Sherman has also represented victims of clergy sex abuse.

The lawyers in 2002 had filed an affidavit in an attempt to get US District Judge Ronald Lagueux to recuse himself from the personal injury case, in which they were representing an insurance company.

A US magistrate judge in Rhode Island later found that the affidavit contained an intentionally false statement, and Lagueux upheld the finding.

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