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12 Pages

Reinstatement Dilemma: The Hiss Decision and Its Effects Upon Disciplinary Enforcement

ByBarry Brown

The task of the Board must consider and report to the supreme judicial court concerning the applications of those attorneys who, having been suspended or disbarred for more than five years, desire reinstatement to the profession. Chambers, an admitted communist agent, testified against Alger Hiss at hearings conducted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, in which Richard M. Nixon sat as the congressman from California. The weight of precedent was against an attorney's reinstatement to the bar prior to the Hiss decision. Ironically, in its first year of operation, the Board was faced with two cases of public note which tested both the disciplinary and reinstatement mechanisms almost as soon as the rules had been effected. In September 1974, by order of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a disciplinary agency known as the Board of Bar Overseers was established in the commonwealth to ensure the unified registration and discipline of attorneys.