Thursday, April 10, 2014
The full Maine Supreme Judicial Court has overturned the order of a single justice admitting famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey to practice in the state.
The admission order had been appealed by the Board of Bar Examiners.
...we conclude that the single justice erred with respect to the Board’s principal assertion—that Bailey failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct that resulted in his disbarment—we vacate the judgment on that basis and do not reach the Board’s other contentions.
The court vacated the order of admission.
A dissent takes the majority to task for reviewing the credibility determinations of the single justice and would remand for further proceedings on the impact of Bailey's ongoing tax liabilities on his fitness to practice
Although, given Bailey’s testimony explaining or rationalizing his past behavior, the Justices in the majority might not have found as the single justice did if any of them had sat as the trial justice, the function of an appellate court is not to re-weigh the evidence and substitute its findings for those of the fact-finder. Rather, as an appellate court reviewing the findings in this matter, the Court must determine on appeal whether there is evidence in the record from which the single justice could reasonably have found that it was highly probable that Bailey “recognize[d] the wrongfulness and seriousness of [his] misconduct.” M. Bar R. 7.3(j)(5)(C).
...we would remand the matter for the single justice to take evidence and reconsider whether the risk that Bailey would mismanage funds in the context of paying his substantial tax debt would render his admission to the Bar “detrimental . . . to the public interest.”