Friday, March 30, 2012

One Man's Crusade Leads To Public Reprimand

A Maine attorney who was admitted in 1977 was sanctioned with a public reprimand by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. It is not your every day bar discipline case.

The attorney represented a client in a partition matter. A settlement was achieved but the attorney's client failed to honor the terms. The attorney withdrew from the representation.

The client then made a threat to put a bullet in the head of the opposing party. The attorney reported the threat to her counsel and became convinced his former client was a serial killer.

The Court:

Approximately two months after Mr. Cote’s withdrawal from the case, Mr. Holland shot and killed Derek and Gage Greene. The shooting took place on June 30, 2009, and the grand jury returned an indictment on July 10, 2009. Mr. Holland was subsequently convicted of the murders and is serving a double life sentence.

From that time forward Mr. Cote engaged in an extensive investigation of Mr. Holland’s past. He is convinced Mr. Holland is a serial killer responsible for many deaths and in at least one case another individual was wrongly convicted of the crime. In addition, he represented Tammy Cole, the mother of the Greene brothers, in a wrongful death action against Mr. Holland. Mr. Cote acknowledges he obtained confidential information from Rory Holland. He knew what assets Mr. Holland owned and which were subject to encumbrances. Having dealt with Mr. Holland’s extreme behavior in the partition action, Mr. Cote was aware of Mr. Holland’s tendency toward violence and the manner in which he handled litigation. Mr. Cote embarked on a one-man crusade studying various missing persons records and attempting to connect Mr. Holland to other crimes. He also received access through Susan Varney to a home she had shared with Mr. Holland and obtained over sixty videotapes and a computer from that home. Mr. Cote then turned over the videotapes and computer to the police investigating the murders. Mr. Holland filed a motion to suppress regarding the tapes and claims he did not testify at the trial as a result of the ruling on the motion.

This Court finds that Mr. Cote has violated Rules 1.9 and 8.4(d) of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct because he had confidential information from his representation of Mr. Holland which he used against Mr. Holland in the subsequent action.

The client was convicted of two unrelated murders and is serving a life sentence. has this story about the client. (Mike Frisch)

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