Wednesday, February 18, 2009
An order entered by the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine suspended an attorney for six-months and one day. In one instance of misconduct, the attorney was talking to his client about an agreement with the opposing party. The client was using the speakerphone function of his cell phone and the opposing party ( the client's spouse) was able to hear the lawyer. The court found that the unauthorized communication rule was violated: "He was not a passive bystander, rather he actively facilitated, furthered, and participated in the process. Indeed, when the document was presented...[he] was in communication with the parties through the speakerphone function of [his client's] cellular telephone."
There was other misconduct including failure to advise a client to obey a court order and false statements to the Grievance Panel: "His 'cat-and-mouse' approach to Assistant Bar Counsel's questioning discloses a profound lack of candor and a clear willingness to mislead counsel and the tribunal." He also made "intemperate remarks suggesting unethical conduct on the part of the Board's counsel, and collusion between a judge and an attorney" but the court found that these were not knowing falsehoods because he "may actually, sincerely believe these assertions-- an equally disturbing possibility, but not actionable under the rules." (Mike Frisch)