Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied the reinstatement petition of an attorney admitted in 1999, suspended in 2003 as a result of a barrage of bar complaints, and disbarred in 2004. The misconduct involved a wide array of violations that included three instances of forced sex with an unwilling former client. The attorney had moved to Georgia after the disbarment and obtained teaching credentials but failed to disclose his Maine disbarment. His teaching certificate was revoked when the omission was discovered.
His personal statement in support of reinstatement claimed that he was disbarred because he had "accepted the challenge of serving his people in a jurisdiction which was devoid of any civil rights architecture or sophistication: a state in need of a hero." He further claimed that '[w]herever I went-in whatever courthouse I argued-I was followed by crowds, cameras and enthusiasts. At age 27, I argued to packed courthouses from Wells to Dover-Foxcroft and was the focus of the civil rights movement in Maine."
The court found nothing in the record to support the above claims and nothing that would suggest he could be likened to civil rights attorneys in the South that had risked disbarment (or worse) because of their zeal and legal skills:
[His] view of himself and the reasons for his disbarment might be understandable, even if incorrect, had he been disciplined for overzealousness, arrogance, incivility, or disrespect towards clients, the bar or the courts. But [he] was disciplined primarily for abuse, financial impropriety and neglect of clients. The catch words [he] uses to characterize his problems do not explain this abuse, financial impropriety and neglect, and [he] does not appear to acknowledge this as a problem.
The record...demonstrates that when [he] was unavailable for clients, it was not because he was trying a high visibility case in Dover Foxcroft or doing interviews for the evening news, but because he was nowhere to be found when his clients needed him. Repeated sexual abuse of a client, missing many court deadlines, and neglect of many cases, including a gentleman who wanted to pursue a racial profiling action are not the actions of an attorney who "professes to be a champion of civil rights and minority causes...."
Anyone with a perception of himself and of his importance that is so far removed from reality will likely not pursue practice with the requisite honesty and integrity when understanding and adhering to ethical standards conflicts with [his] unrealistic self-image of who he is and should be in life and in law.
Petition denied. (Mike Frisch)