Bad Ideas

Hard-Hitting Term Paper Exposé Costs Appellate Law Clerk His Job

Damian Bonazzoli.JPGIn November, we told you about Damian Bonazzoli, who was — at that time — a senior staff attorney for the Massachusetts Appeals Court. He decided to make some money on the side by responding to a Craigslist ad seeking someone to write a term paper.
The Boston College law grad sent along his résumé and said he was willing to write a paper on physician-assisted suicide for $300. The Craigslist poster though was not a lazy Harvard freshman. It was an investigative journalist for Commonwealth magazine, who wanted to expose the “shadowy underworld” of college papers for purchase.
When the journalist confronted him, Bonazzoli was surely embarrassed but said:

“I am aware of no state or federal statute that prohibits such a practice. This is not the equivalent of, say, lying on a federal employment or tax form,” he said. “Could your school take disciplinary action? Of course. But that’s quite different from a criminal prosecution.”

Bonazzoli should have done some research before making that statement, as there is such a statute, passed in 1972.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court was none too pleased to have one of its staff attorneys on the wrong side of the law…

From Julia Reischel at the Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly Docket via First Things:

Joan Kenney, a spokeswoman for the Trial Court, issued a statement saying that “as of December 29, 2009, Mr. Bonazzoli no longer works at the court.”
The statement added that Alexander M. McNeil , the court administrator for the Appeals Court, confirmed “that an investigation into the matter was completed.”

Bonazzoli lost his $94,000 per year job over a $300 term paper. Ouch.
Looks like Bonazzoli will be doing more singing and less lawyering. Though he is still active, according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

Reached at his home, Bonazzoli read a statement to Lawyers Weekly:
“I am not in the business of selling term papers,” he said. “I have never authored a term paper for anyone. I have never received any money from anyone for any academic service.”

Given the legal job market right now, maybe he should get into that business.
Lawyer accused of selling term papers departs Appeals Court [Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly via First Things]
Moonlighting Law Clerk Loses Day Job [Legal Blog Watch]
Appellate Law Clerk Is Out of a Job After Ghostwriting Claim [ABA Journal]
Earlier: An Ill-Advised Way To Make $300

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