June 14, 2010
Less Than Best Judgment
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has imposed its sanction in a matter that we previously reported involving an attorney who "failed to provide reasonable skill and care or apply his best judgment when he propositioned the client to engage in sexual relations during a day in which he was providing legal representation and counsel to her, and...wrongfully asserted a lien on her file by requiring her to sign an agreement to pay the fees that she owed him as a condition of receiving a copy of her file."
The Bar Board of Overseers had proposed a six-month suspension with all but sixty days suspended with conditions that included cooperation with monitoring by the Bar's attorney assistance program and a written apology to the client. The attorney sought a reprimand.
The court found the violations to be serious: "By his more recent actions, [he] has called into question whether he is completely rehabiliated [from his pre-admission conviction] and whether he has the capacity to maintain the level of professionalism required of members of the Bar. For this reason, the Court concludes that the sanction in this case must be sufficiently severe to assure [he] is deterred from further unprofessional conduct." The court thus imposed an eighteen-month suspension with all but ninety days stayed. He must apologize in writing to the client and cooperate with the Bar's program.
While the attorney was admitted in 2004 and has no prior discipline, he was admitted despite a felony conviction for conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute. (Mike Frisch)
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